Politicalarena.com – Philippines’ First Socio-Political Website

The 2010 Philippine elections is just 10 months away and again, we need to choose a new president for the country. No one has confirmed that they are running for the presidency; obviously, they will be filing their certificate of candidacies on or weeks before the very last day of COC filing. Even though no one has confirmed yet who will be running either for president, vice-president or senators, we are already getting the hunch on who will be aiming for public office (again).

A socio-political networking website, www.politicalarena.com, is said to enlighten us voters (and aspiring voters) to know the background of politicians who, according to “public opinion”, will run on 2010. It’s the first of its kind here but it’s not owned by the Comission of Elections (COMELEC). This project is in partnership with 88db.com, meaning they funded the whole website.
Political Arena

I was one of the bloggers who attended the launch of Politicalarena.com at the Manila Peninsula 3 weeks ago. Probably other bloggers were not available to attend the event (because it was at 9 am on a Thursday (?) ) and at that time I don’t have a day job yet so it’s just me and Karla who went there. Aside from the launch of the website. they also had a signing of the “anti-smear campaign” among the political figures present there such as Sen. Chiz Escudero, Hon. Gilbert Remulla, Hon. Raffy Biazon, Hon. Teodoro Casiño together with COMELEC Commissioner Jose Melo, NAMFREL Ambassador Henrietta de Villa, PPCRV’s Bro. Clifford Sorita, Fr. Anton Pascual of Caritas Manila and Reginald Velasco, Secretary-General, Kampi. Apparently, the politicians who signed the anti-smear campaign will be running for public office for their next term (or a higher position). Ex-Senator Nikki Coseteng was there also but she did not sign the anti-smear campaign MOA, does that mean that she will not be running for office again?

When the floor was opened for questions to COMELEC Chairman Jose Melo, COMELEC Spokesperson James Jimenez and General Manager of Politicalarena.com Racquel Cagurangan, the first media practitioner who went to the mic (I forgot who he was, I think from Business World) immediately fired one of the most controversial questions to COMELEC Chairman Melo: How come that the machines that were intended for poll automation weren’t tested? (rephrased) Inside my mind I said, “You just have to put Chairman Melo on the spot when the topic or event on hand does not even talk about poll automation.” Actually, most questions there weren’t about the website, it was more of the poll automation. It seems that most media practitioners don’t really care about how the website will be relevant/irrelevant to our voters. Good thing I was seated in a table with individuals from Radio Caritas. A little exchange of ideas and opinions about the website. Here are some of the things that seemed dubious about website:

  • Funding – According to the Racquel Cagurangan, General Manager of Politicalarena.com, the funding came SOLELY from 88DB.com.
  • Who initiated it? – It was 88DB who initiated this project then became “in-partnership” with COMELEC. 88DB wanted to become the pioneer in becoming the ‘first socio-political networking site’ here in the Philippines.
  • Candidate profiles – It will be the duty of the candidates’ staff to update the profiles there. At the same time, the candidates themselves are expected to “reply” to the questions for each candidate. Also, the candidates that you can see on the page were based, according to Cagurangan, on the “public perceptions”. I don’t know if they did a survey for this of what but this is what bothers me because this is beneficial only for popular candidates. Now how about the aspiring candidates who don’t have money for the campaign? If politicians would like to remove their profile on the site, they may do so but they have to submit a formal letter to them. Sen. Ping Lacson already withdrew on the presidential race and had already sent a formal letter to them. Political Arena reconfirmed it to him. Why is there a need to follow up on him?
  • Anti-Smear Campaign – Ideally, the website should not be an arena for destroying the reputation of another candidate. Wow, is this really gonna happen? Signing the MOA for the Anti-Smear Campaign won’t make any difference. According to Cagurangan, their job won’t go further than maintaining the website. Meaning, they take care only of the technical stuff but moderating the things that are being said there, it’s not their job anymore. They will only be moderating the comments and uploaded items when they violate the provisions in the user policy. The basic provisions are the usual ones for forums and social networking websites.

To sum it all up, I know that this is a good avenue to get to know the presidential candidates especially for the OFWs who plan to vote on 2010. The politicians I saw there are the same trapos.>

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