Northbound Philippines News


MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is partnering with Twitter to reach out extensively to voters in connection with the presidential debates to be held in the coming months.

Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista noted that they were using social media to allow them to hold more inclusive presidential discussions, which will be held in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao in the succeeding months before the May 9 polls.

“We look forward to working with Twitter to make the presidential debates more accessible to millions of Filipinos,” he said in a press conference.

For his part, Rishi Jaitly, Twitter – Asia Pacific and Middle East Vice President said they were happy to be partnering with the Comelec.

“We are delighted today that Comelec is partnering with Twitter and going to unlock the full potential of this tool, this platform in the context of the presidential elections happening this year,” he said.

The poll body chief believed that social media would prove to be powerful in establishing a more informed voters in the forthcoming polls.

“About 24 million of our 54.3 million voters belong to the 18-34 year old age bracket. With the youth comprising about 24 million votes, if 60 to 65 percent of that demographic will vote for a particular candidate, the chances are that candidate is going to win,” Bautista said.

The first of the three presidential debates will be held at the Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro City on Feb. 21; to be followed by the one in either University of San Carlos in Cebu or University of the Philippines – Visayas in Iloilo on March 20; and the last in University of Pangasinan in Pangasinan on April 24.

The only vice presidential debate will be held in the National Capital Region on March 10. The venue will be either University of the Philippines or University of Santo Tomas.

Meanwhile, the Comelec will be re-activating its online scheme to get reports from the public on violations of campaign rules by candidates in the May elections.

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said they are looking to e re-launch their #SumbongKo campaign before the start of the campaign period on February 9.

“One of things we are looking at is learning how to use the Twitter dashboard, specifically to aggregate incident reports we will be getting. We tried this in 2013 with #SumbongKo,” said Jimenez.

Jaitly said that the voter could report any irregularities using the social networking site.

“Our users will have a chance to tweet any irregularities seen on the ground,” the Twitter official added.

In the 2013 polls, the Comelec sent notices to several national, party-lists, and local candidates after they were subject of reports of illegal campaign posters sent to the poll body through the social media. PNA/

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