The past few months have clearly shown how powerful social media has become in terms of shaping the decisions and actions of our government leaders. Two main developments have contributed to this continued growth in participation within the social media space in our country. Firstly, the continuing growth of Filipinos who are working or migrating abroad and secondly, the increasing accessibility of the internet among Filipinos here in our country. Ironically, Filipinos living abroad seem to be more active in expressing their views about particular issues in our country. Perhaps this is also borne out of the fact that they have seen and experienced how it is to live in first world nations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia and the United States of America. Here in our country, cellular phones with internet capabilities have now become more and more affordable thus, you have more Filipinos now being able to engage in debate and discussions of issues online through Facebook and Twitter. With these new developments in our society, Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III’s recent filing of the Crowdsourcing Bill could be the game changer in terms of making people participation more of a reality than just a good sounding idea that many of our politicians love to say.
What is crowdsourcing?
According to Wikipedia, crowdsourcing can be defined as a type of participative online activity in which an individual, an institution, a non-profit organization, or company proposes to a group of individuals of varying knowledge, heterogeneity, and number, via a flexible open call, the voluntary undertaking of a task. Currently, crowdsourcing is already being used by several companies to bring together people online to manage projects and help solve problems within their organization. In short, crowdsourcing can also be defined as bringing a group of people together online to help each other solve a particular problem or issue. Some non-profit organizations such as Kiva.org are also using crowdsourcing to help raise funds which they provide as loans for micro-entrepreneurs in Third World countries such as Colombia, Uganda, Nicaragua, Bolivia and even the Philippines. More recently, the Kaya Natin! Movement launched Kaya Natin! Gives (http://gives.kayanatin.org), a one-stop online donation portal that encourages Filipinos from all over the world to chip in their own share to help a young scholar finish college or provide much needed health insurance to a poor family.
Crowdsourcing Act of 2012
Given the recent online outrage on the Cybercrime Law that many Filipinos felt was flawed and wasn’t well crafted, the Crowdsourcing Bill that Senator Guingona has filed is a welcome development. If passed into law, this will provide every Filipino even those living abroad with an opportunity to review online all the pending pieces of legislation that our Congressmen and Senators have filed prior to them eventually becoming laws in our country. Aside from being able to read and review these bills, we will also have the chance to give our comments and suggestions to help our lawmakers improve these bills and allow them to hear out the sentiments and opinions of ordinary Filipinos which ultimately, will be the ones that will be affected once these pending bills become the laws of our land. The bill will also ask each member of our Congress and Senate to post their email addresses online so that their respective constituents no longer need to physically visit their offices just to be able to share their own views about a particular bill that is being deliberated upon. Finally, when the bill is brought to the floor for the 3rd and final reading, our Congress and Senate are mandated to provide an online mechanism wherein people can view the actual proceedings.
If and when this bill is passed, this will not only promote people participation in the crafting of important pieces of legislation in our country but also transparency with regard to how our legislators discuss, debate and vote. Now, these debates and discussions will be seen in the full view of the general public and no longer in dark corners where shady deals and transactions are often made. Hopefully, this can also encourage more Filipinos to become actively engaged in politics and governance since as we all know, the strength of our democracy lies in the proactive vigilance of ordinary citizens like you and me.
If you would like to learn more about the Crowdsourcing Act of 2012 that has been filed by Senator TG Guingona, you can visit: http://www.scribd.com/doc/109482426/SB-3300-Crowdsourcing-Act-of-2012-filed-by-Sen-TG-Guingona-III.
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Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo School of Government and is also the Lead Convenor of Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership.