by JOHN PATRICK A. MAGNO RANARA
A GROUP of young leaders and advocates launched on Thursday a website where Filipinos can post, share, and get verified information about national and local candidates for the upcoming 2022 elections.
The online platform, e-Boto, aims to provide “free, unbiased, and in-depth” information to Filipino voters about the candidates, the issues that surround them, and the advocacies that they stand for.
Pinas Forward, a national movement composed of a network of private companies, academic institutions, public and private organizations, religious groups, and local government units, put up the website.
Maria Hernandez-Beloso, one of the committee organizers of Pinas Forward, said e-Boto was created to inform voters and fight disinformation.
“Our generation gave birth to this facility of interconnectivity, easy access to data, and fast communication. We owe it to the next generation, especially our first-time voters, to hone their skills, to navigate this vast ocean of information. We must equip them with the tools necessary to discern without taking away their freedom to choose,” Beloso said during the virtual launch of the website.
“E-Boto.ph was created specifically to curate the important and relevant news or information and specifically filter out fake news that are unsubstantiated,” she added.
While still in its beta version, the website contains information about the controversies surrounding political aspirants and their opinion on certain social issues including the war on drugs, same-sex marriage, and the government’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
The website lets users compare candidates and play educational games including one that challenges users to distinguish real news from fake ones. Users can also read about notable bills and laws in the country and who authored and sponsored them.
The online port allows anyone to contribute and fact-check information as long as they are Filipino citizens above 18 years old.
Beloso said interested viewers would have to undergo a two-step verification process to safeguard the website from trolls and robots. She also clarified that contributions would not be automatically published since they have to be verified first.
“Even though [people] will be contributing or they will be allowed to contribute, still they would have to undergo our rigorous process of self-checking and fact-checking coming from our researchers, going up to our editorial board. [W]e have to make sure that it is still legitimate and reliable information that you are forwarding to us, and we will also do our independent fact-checking for that,” Beloso said.
E-boto was launched in partnership with the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, a national parish-based non-partisan group that monitors the Philippine elections.
The 2022 general election will be held on May 9. F