Some notes on digitizing social change

What follows is a modified version of a talk that I, on behalf of The Pro Pinoy Project, delivered last 20 February 2012 at Saint Louis University, Baguio City, as one of the resource speakers for the Digital Technology for Social Change: Creating Impact in a Networked Society seminar series, a project of the British Council Philippines.

My fellow speakers were Niña Terol-Zialcita, Micheline Rama, and JP Alipio. Members of the British Council Global Changemakers network, namely Jecel CensoroJoseph MansillaAnna Oposa, Dwight Ronan, and Ponce Samaniego, also talked about their respective advocacy projects.

Some Notes on Digitizing Social Change

Good morning. Thank you to the British Council Philippines and Saint Louis University for having me here, and to all the participants for the gift of your presence—or your tele-presence, for those of you watching the live stream of this session.

That the Internet has brought about, and will continue to bring about, wide and sweeping changes all over the planet would appear to be a matter already beyond question. In 2006, the print edition of TIME’s annual Person of the Year issue bore a shiny, reflective panel on its cover—the reason being that the Person of the Year was “You”. Lev Grossman, explaining the choice, wrote that one of the stories of 2006 was a “story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It’s about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people’s network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes”.

Grossman was referring to the dramatic impact brought about by Web 2.0, an umbrella term, that, following Prashant Sharma, covers online services that were built to facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, crowd-sourcing, and collaboration. And while Grossman did warn against romanticizing Web 2.0—despairing at, among other things, the hatred and the lack of spelling skills that many of its users seemed to have in abundance—he nevertheless asserted that it gave rise to the “opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person”.

Regardless of whether “You” was the right pick, it is worth pointing out that succeeding Person of the Year issues saw TIME recognizing people who, without the Internet, might not have otherwise been thus acknowledged. In 2008, the magazine selected Barack Obama, whose successful campaign to be the President of the United States of America was driven in no insignificant way by online support. In 2010, the recognition went to Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of an immensely popular social networking company—you may have heard of it: it’s called Facebook, and it recently filed for an initial public offering (IPO) worth USD5 billion. Last year, TIME chose “The Protester” in view of the massive demonstrations that—with the help of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, among other tools—were organized and still roil across the globe: in Europe and North America, in the Middle East and North Africa.

Given the theme of this seminar series—“Digital Media for Social Change: Creating Impact in a Networked Society”—it might be the aforementioned protests that spring to mind when we, with an eye to our own history of revolutions, try to imagine what can be done in the Philippines today. Using digital media, can we bring about positive social change? Or—to paraphrase from the preamble of our Constitution, a document which is supposed to be an expression of our collective will as the sovereign Filipino people—using digital media, can we promote the common good? Conserve and develop our patrimony? Share and enjoy the blessings of independence and democracy? Establish a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace?

Yes. Yes, of course. If I didn’t believe that, I would never have come before you to speak at this forum. (Incidentally, the girl in the picture has “optimistic” written across her hand in Arabic.) And yet the previous questions were more than merely rhetorical ones. Social change must always be understood as taking place within specific constraints, and especially so when we seek change by digital means in these islands. Such constraints cannot simply be conquered or transcended by sheer force of will—they form part of the unavoidable “social thickness” that must be lived through and negotiated with.

It hardly needs saying that I am not a Luddite: I own a mobile phone, a laptop computer, and an e-reading device; I have been a user of the Internet since the late 1990s, a time when a connection speed of 56 kilobytes per second—torturously slow by contemporary standards—was considered acceptable; I have been blogging intermittently since 2001, starting with, when it hadn’t yet been acquired by Google; and I spend several hours a day online chatting with friends, looking at pictures, watching videos, reading articles, and broadcasting banalities via social media platforms.

My stance as regards the Internet, however, is principally a cautious one. I am wary, even skeptical, of the various claims that are being made for it, verging as some of these claims do on what I would call “digital evangelism”: a zealous, fanatical conviction in the transformative power of digital technology in general, and the Internet in particular.  We must remember that the Internet is a relatively new development in the human story, and while many a commentator has declared that it will rival and eventually dwarf the printing press in terms of cultural impact, much of its potential, particularly in the Philippines, remains exactly that: potential. Digital change-makers who lose sight of this risk being engulfed by narcissistic self-regard.

All the same, you would not be ill-advised to take my words—as the fantasy writer George R. R. Martin might put it—well-salted. It may interest you to know that one of the first skeptics about technology was Socrates.  In Phaedrus, the Greek philosopher tells his titular interlocutor a story about the Egyptian god Theuth, who is credited with the invention of arithmetic, calculation, geometry, astronomy, draughts, dice, and, most importantly, the use of letters, or a system of writing. Theuth, desiring to make these inventions available for other Egyptians to use and benefit from, pays a visit to another god, Thamus, who is king over all Egypt, to show and explain each of the things that he has made. When they come to the letters, Theuth says that writing “will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories; it is a specific both for the memory and for the wit”.

Thamus replies with a gentle rebuke: “O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.”

Socrates was not completely wrong about writing—certainly it had some of the effects on knowledge and memory that he had feared—but he could not have foreseen this: the world that the written word had made possible, as well as its attendant wonders, not least of which is our ability to revisit his thoughts, precisely because they had been written down by Plato.

The first part of my presentation is derived from an ongoing, if not entirely systematic, process of research into and reflection upon digital media and the ways by which it is reshaping our lives and labors, and my primary objective here is to raise to the surface questions and concerns that I hope will help all of us to gain a greater awareness of the context that we inhabit, and a better appreciation of the possibilities for action. The second part of my presentation deals with The Pro Pinoy Project, the organization that I represent, and some of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for what may be called “participatory journalism”.

I will begin by drawing up a map of the local digital mediascape. The nature of a map is such that it is necessarily incomplete, and mine is a very partial one that focuses on the Internet, but I hope it will be sufficiently illustrative of some of the issues and limits that we must contend with.

Let’s talk about infrastructure.

Sometime last year, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) released a publication via its web site called Measuring the Information Society 2011, which features two tools that are used to monitor developments in information and communication technology (ICT) worldwide: first, the ICT Development Index, which tracks indictors pertaining to ICT access, use, and skills in a given economy, and then rates that economy on a scale of one to ten; and second, the ICT Price Basket, which considers the costs of fixed-telephone, mobile-cellular, and fixed-broadband Internet services vis-à-vis the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of a given economy.

 According to the latest findings by the ITU, how did the Philippines fare? With regard to the ICT Development Index, our country got 3.22 out of 10, ranking 16th out of the 27 economies classified as belonging to the Asia and the Pacific region, and 92nd out of all the 152 economies that had been included in the study. As for the ICT Price Basket, the ITU computed that the composite cost of ICT services in the Philippines was about 9.2% of the per capita GNI, based on a GNI of USD2,050. As a point of comparison, consider that the top 28 countries included in the study have composite costs of less than 1% of the per capita GNI.

The situation is not much better for the global majority.  As the ITU remarked, “Despite […] encouraging trends, as at end 2010, some 70% of the world’s population (and almost 80% of the developing countries’ population) were not yet using the Internet, and even fewer via a broadband connection.”

 Another study of interest that came out online the year before is the Global Information Technology Report 2010-2011, which is a collaborative effort between the World Economic Forum and INSEAD. The report measures the degree to which countries are leveraging ICT for enhanced competitiveness using the Networked Readiness Index (NRI), which uses a scale of one to seven. The NRI is composed of three sub-indices, and each of these sub-indices is calculated using a particular set of indicators.

The overall networked readiness of our country is 3.6 out of 7, with a rank of 68th out of 138 economies. For the Environment Sub-index, which gauges the market environment, the political and regulatory environment, and the infrastructure environment of a given economy with reference to innovation and ICT development, we got 3.5 out of 7, ranking 94th. For the Readiness Sub-index, which contemplates the readiness of individuals, businesses, and governments to use technology, especially ICT, in their day-to-day activities and operations, we got 3.9 out of 7, ranking 99th. For the Usage Sub-index, which measures the actual ICT usage by the main social sectors of an economy, we got 3.3 out of 7, ranking 71st.

At the risk of oversimplifying, what these two reports tell us is something that we may already suspect, if not know: the Internet in the Philippines is poorly developed and very expensive.

The Global Information Technology Report also includes a number of papers from contributors, including a team from management consulting firm Booz & Company.  Entitled, “Building Communities around Digital Highways”, the authors, led by Karim Sabbagh, make a case for the need for digital highways, which they define as “nationwide high-speed broadband enabled by a combination of fixed as well as wireless networks”, and evaluate their current state. They argue that, “[a]ccelerating the deployment of digital highways and deriving their full benefits […] requires fundamental changes in vision and action throughout the entire broadband ecosystem”, which means that policymakers, operators, device manufacturers, application developers, and other stakeholders should be actively involved in what they call the “broadband ecosystem” . Furthermore, those in the broadband ecosystem must also reach out and collaborate actively with adjacent ecosystems, such as health care, education, and energy, in order to help them maximize digital highways and the advantages these highways can offer each sector.

Obviously, one entity with an important role to play in establishing the broadband ecosystem is our government , so it bears asking what sort of “vision and action” we can expect from it. I will go over three pertinent aspects of the government framework for the Internet.

Last June 29, 2011, the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), headed by chairman Ivan John Uy, launched the Philippine Digital Strategy (PDS) 2011-2016, a five-year plan that professes to be animated by a vision of “a digitally empowered, innovative, globally competitive and prosperous society where everyone has reliable, affordable and secure information access in the Philippines”; “a government that practices accountability and excellence to provide responsive online citizen-centered services”; and “a thriving knowledge economy through public-private partnership”.

Can the PDS, in fact, be able to facilitate the realization of these grand goals? Pro Pinoy editor-in-chief Cocoy Dayao doesn’t believe so, and has suggested in a post that the PDS be scrapped—a point that I agree with, as careful scrutiny of the PDS would reveal that is concerned chiefly with establishing a broadband network for the government, and does not establish clear directions for how to deal with issues that directly affect the growth and proliferation of digital technology, such as the cost of electricity in the country, which, according to an October 2010 study by think tank International Energy Consultants, is the highest in Asia. Of course, any discussion of the merits and demerits of the PDS would seem to be useless at this point, because six days before the plan was launched, President Aquino, by way of Executive Order No. 47, virtually dissolved the CICT: the issuance renamed the commission as the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) and placed it under the Department of Science and Technology, a move that several BPO companies protested. To what extent the ICTO is implementing the PDS, if at all, is not very clear. The administration has said that it does want to set up a national broadband network (NBN), but it will not happen this year, as Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary has said there is no allocation for it yet. And of course, the very concept of an NBN is still politically sensitive—some of you may recall the NBN-ZTE scandal that erupted during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Another matter that I would like to bring up is National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Memorandum Order (MO) 07-07-2011 .

Let me talk about the context of this order briefly. An issue that had several quarters of the Internet community last year up in arms early last year was a proposed order from the NTC that, while requiring telcos to set a minimum guaranteed speed for connections, would have allowed them to impose bandwidth caps on its subscribers, too—ostensibly on “network abuse” and “anti-piracy” grounds, neither of which holds up under inspection. With reference to “network abuse”, it is simply too vague a term that readily lent itself to abuse by self-interested service providers, thus punishing consumers who simply wish to maximize what they are paying for—which for not a few might mean playing games on Facebook, watching videos on YouTube, and publicizing every stray thought on Twitter 24 hours a day, but there is nothing wrong with any of that. As regards “anti-piracy” concerns, let’s face it: no amount of data restriction could truly be used as a tool to further the cause of “anti-piracy”, because capping would only make piracy slower, not impossible. Several of our writers covered this issue quite thoroughly, and one of them, Pierre Tito Galla, drafted a position paper that was circulated among concerned Internet users before being submitted to the NTC for consideration, as well as published in Pro Pinoy.

Fortunately, as a result of the public outcry, the NTC decided against implementing the aforementioned order. What it issued instead, some months later, was MO 07-07-2011. In some ways, though MO 07-07-2011 looks better than the prior proposal, it is still “ampaw”, as Galla put it in a post. He remarks that while MO 07-07-2011 does require transparency in billing, provide for a minimum monthly service reliability level of 80%, and give Internet service providers (ISPs) flexibility in terms of packaging and pricing their products, it is deficient in terms of the following: it does not provide effectively for pre-paid Internet connectivity, given that reliability is measured on a monthly basis; it does not require service reliability to be measured at the subscriber end; it is silent on data volume capping, despite the NTC asserting that it could regulate broadband services, meaning that telcos, which consider broadband a value-added service, can still impose unreasonable limits; and it does not compel ISPs to establish customer-friendly mechanisms for getting rebates in case the minimum service reliability level is not met. (If you’ve ever had to complain to your ISP about poor service, like I have, you know how absolutely hellish the experience can be—so much so that sometimes the problem almost seems to be your fault all along, starting with the decision to subscribe.)

Allow me now to discuss a recent legislative development . The Senate recently passed Senate Bill No. 2796, which is entitled the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, and has Sen. Edgardo Angara as its principal sponsor. While the bill may be well-intentioned, it suffers from a number of significant flaws, some of which I will identify.

First, the bill, as Sen. TG Guingona pointed out when he voted against it—the only senator to do so—“legislates morality” when it defines cybersex as a crime in this manner: the “willful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favor or consideration”. Evidently this provision is designed such that law enforcers can go after operators of cybersex dens, which unfortunately are burgeoning in the Philippines. Note, however, the qualifying phrase: “for favor or consideration”. If we were to compare it to, say, the definition of prostitution under Republic Act No. 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, which is “any act, transaction, scheme or design involving the use of a person by another, for sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct in exchange for money, profit or any other consideration”, then doesn’t the provision in the bill appear stricter, because broader? “For favor or consideration” and “for money, profit, or any other consideration” do not mean the same thing.

Second, the bill affirms that acts of libel, as set forth in the Revised Penal Code, can be committed in cyberspace. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that our libel law is rather medieval. A case in point: the United Nations Committee on Human Rights ruled in October 2011 that the penalization of journalist Alex Adonis for libel constituted a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Adonis was imprisoned after he lost a defamation suit against former House Speaker Prospero Nograles.

Third, the bill has no provisions that pertain to stalking, bullying, or harassing people in cyberspace, which means that these acts, regardless of duration or degree, would be perfectly legal in the event that the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is passed into law.

Do our leaders really understand what goes on in cyberspace? I myself am not sure, and it’s a question worth thinking about, because the decisions that our officials make will have an impact—positive or otherwise—on all of us who use the Internet.

 Who are we that will be affected? Who are the Filipino netizens?

The figures I will be citing during the next several slides come from Digital Philippines 2011: Yahoo!-Nielsen Net Index Highlights, a study that was conducted in 22 major cities, including Metro Manila, among 1,500 male and female users, aged 10 and above, across socio-economic classes.

Let’s start with geographic distribution . In the period covered by the report, only 30% of people in national urban Philippines used the Internet in the past month, with 26% in Luzon, 30% in Visayas, and 17% in Mindanao. In Metro Manila, the figure is 43%, while in Cebu and Davao, the figures are 34% and 37%, respectively.

 In terms of age, Internet usage was highest among those aged between 10 and 19 (53%) and between 20 and 29 (43%). Among 30- to 39-year-olds, it was 21%. Among 40- to 49-year-olds, it was 11%. And among those aged 50 and above, it was 3%.

 Where are people accessing the Internet? There are several options, of course, but the dominant option is the Internet café at 66%, nearly double that of the next option, the home, at 35%. Other places of access, such as school or work, have an aggregate of 13%.

 With regard to socio-economic class, usage was highest, unsurprisingly, among classes A, B, and C, at 66%. Among users in class C2, it was 53%, and among users in classes D and E, it was 24%.

These findings tie in with what the social scientist Raul Pertierra pointed out in “The new media and politics? Or the politics of new media?”, a paper that was published in the 2010 anthology The Politics of Change in the Philippines . There, Pertierra said, “With the exception of class, cellphone and Internet use in the Philippines is comparatively neutral. […] Class is the main impediment to a more equitable access to the new media […]”

To put it more starkly: at least 70% of Filipinos have no Internet access.  I say “at least”, because the Yahoo!-Nielsen study focused on urban areas. When we try to think about using the Internet as a means for bringing about social change, we have to remember that we are not reaching a significant majority of our fellow Filipinos: at present, 63 million of them—assuming a conservative population figure of 90 million—are not online.

 What about those who are online? What can we know about their patterns of behavior?

 In terms of content, the five most preferred types are: international music at 68%; local music at 65%; interesting photos and videos at 59%; games at 56%; and technology and gadgets at 55%.

 The top five online activities are: social networking at 82%; search at 80%; instant messaging at 69%; visiting Internet portals at 67%; and visiting public chat rooms at 65%.

The fact that Yahoo!-Nielsen identifies social networking as the top online activity is interesting to juxtapose with data from Wave 3 and Wave 4, which are studies on social media that were undertaken by Universal McCann in 2008 and 2009, respectively. If we put together the numbers from these two latter pieces of research , we find that the social media activities done most frequently by Filipinos are: watching videos at 98.1%; reading blogs at 90.0%; uploading photos at 86.4%; creating a profile on a new social network at 83.1%; and uploading videos at 67.5%.

What should we make of these numbers? When we go online, most of us aren’t there to promote a cause or to advance an agenda, to research for class or to do work—we’re there primarily to amuse ourselves: we listen to music, watch videos, and interact with friends. This preoccupation with entertainment isn’t necessarily bad, of course, but it is something that we do have to bear in mind.

British Council Philippines Digital Technology for Social Change

 One point that I hope should be abundantly clear by now, after all those statistics, is the existence of what is referred to as the digital divide, which is not so much a single chasm as a series of gaps between the Filipinos who are privileged enough to have access to the Internet—which includes us who are gathered here now—and the Filipinos who are not similarly privileged: gaps in knowledge, in literacy, in resources, and in power.  We should ask ourselves, then, whenever we access the great fund of information that is the Internet, how we are using our privilege, and why.

In 1980, the year that Polish poet Czesław Milosz  was hailed as the Nobel Laureate in Literature, he intoned what seems to be both observation and warning during his Nobel lecture—one that is even more germane today: “Our planet that gets smaller every year, with its fantastic proliferation of mass media, is witnessing a process that escapes definition, characterized by a refusal to remember.”

Whether that is true could well be debatable.  It is more difficult, however, to dispute what technology writer Nicholas Carr has said: “As we use what the sociologist Daniel Bell has called our ‘intellectual technologies’ […] we inevitably begin to take on the qualities of those technologies.” Or, as the Jesuit John Culkin put it more succinctly, “We shape our tools, and thereafter they shape us.”

Perhaps, before asking how we can use digital technology to change the world, we should ask how that same technology is changing us. While some of these changes may be for the better, I’m sure all of us are aware of disturbing behaviors that appear to be specific to cyberspace, and my contention is that these are not isolated incidents, but symptomatic of larger problems to which the Internet tends to contribute or exacerbate as medium, and against which we must guard. I will cite two examples.

 Take, for instance, mobbing.  I’m sure all of you know who this guy is: he’s Christopher Lao, who was caught on video by a media outfit trying to drive his car through a flooded street. He failed in the attempt, and his car wound up floating in the water for a while. He immediately became an online sensation when, in reply to an unaired question from the reporter, he cried, “I was not informed”, as he looked like a spoiled brat whining about a thus far inevitable Philippine reality. Vicious comments and hate pages proliferated at dizzying speed online.

His critics neglected to ask some questions, however.

Why did Lao take such a foolish risk? It turned out that he had been rushing home to be with his young daughter, because his wife was stranded in her office.

More crucially: how was that footage taken to begin with? The existence of the video proves that members of the media outfit were present at the scene. Did they think to warn Lao from proceeding down the street? Did they try?

 In any case, as the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) said, “[Apart] from sharing the news, people had started to call Lao names—used rude and/or insulting words to describe him and the incident—in other words, a clear abuse of social media.”

Another example:  failing to exercise critical thinking. The Mosquito Press, a satirical news site, released a story saying that a Harvard study had named Filipinos the most gullible people in the world—a story that was promptly picked up and treated as genuine by no less than a professional writer, The Philippine Star columnist Carmen Pedrosa. This set off a round of much-deserved scorn from several quarters for Pedrosa, but she was unapologetic: in her next column, she declared that it was still true that Filipinos are generally gullible, and her citing the spurious study was precisely to make that point . Manuel Buencamino, another of Pro Pinoy’s writers, had this to say in response: “I’m still in pain from the steaming hot coffee I blew through my nose after I read her column and the ‘correction’ she made the following day.”

 While we’re on the subject of thinking, we might as well ask: How is Internet changing our brains—not only metaphorically, in the sense of the “mind”, but also physiologically? There is quite a lot of literature on the subject, but one paper that I think is worth mentioning was written by child development scholars Maryanne Wolf and Mirit Barzillai.  In “The Importance of Deep Reading”, Wolf and Barzillai redeploy Aristotle’s concept of three lives to talk about how the transition from a print culture to a digital one affects learning. In their view, society at present is able to pursue the life of activity and the life of enjoyment, and the digital learner is well-suited to both these lives. The life of contemplation, however, in spite of its increasingly diminished place in contemporary life, is also important, and is vital to what they call deep reading—“the array of sophisticated processes that propel comprehension and that include inferential and deductive reasoning, analogical skills, critical analysis, reflection, and insight”—which encourages deep thought, and in turn leads to the formation and development of structures in the brain that would otherwise not be so formed or developed. A world that makes no room for the life of contemplation, then, might be one filled with individuals who are less analytical and less purposeful about the information that they encounter: perpetually distracted and easily deluded.  As Wolf says in her book, Proust and the Squid, “We are not only what we read. We are how we read.”

Of course the dangers of distraction and delusion are already very much with us: ours is the age of information overload. And while information can be empowering , it is not always so—mere possession of information does not guarantee action or transformation: an issue that was recognized long before our time. Cultural critic Neil Postman, in Amusing Ourselves to Death, his famous book on—or rather, against—television, locates a watershed in history with the invention of telegraphy, saying that the from this point forward, the information-action ratio of people began to become problematic : “For the first time in human history, people were faced with the problem of information glut, which means that simultaneously they were faced with the problem of a diminished social and political potency.”  For instance, we are bombarded daily, offline and online, by tidbits of data such as what X celebrity was wearing an outfit by Y designer at Z event, but are these things we have to know? Should we care?  Can this information be acted upon in a meaningful way? The Internet has served to increase by leaps and bounds the amount of information we are exposed to, but so much of it is simply distracting—however one understands the Internet to be, it is also, by design, a gigantic distraction machine that, in forcing us to respond—and quickly—to multiple stimuli every time we use it, makes us feel busy and productive even if we’re not actually accomplishing anything.

Henry David Thoreau made a relevant point in Walden when he said, “We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some weeks nearer to the New; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough.”

As I said earlier, this part of presentation is derived from an ongoing process of research into and reflection upon digital media. This process was, in many respects, prompted by my experience with The Pro Pinoy Project, which I will now turn to and talk about.

Pro Pinoy began in late 2009 as a volunteer-run web site that was intended to achieve the goal of increasing public awareness of the national and local elections that took place in May 2010, with a particular focus on the hotly contested race for the presidency. It was propelled by the idea that the ballot is the most powerful tool with which the future of the country could be secured.

The site served as an online database of news articles and blog posts on issues of national significance, as well on the track records and promises of the presidential candidates. Over the course of compiling content for publication, we sought to curate the data that they had gathered, occasionally selecting reports that were important but had not received much attention in either the mainstream or new media arenas. Of course, the veritable flood of election-related information was too much for us to keep up with, and therefore updates were made irregularly.

Following the relatively successful conduct of the elections, we decided that the site could serve as more than just a vehicle for voter education. As crucial as this task was, elections occur only once every three years, and, in any case, voting is only one aspect of citizenship. Good citizens must also be sufficiently informed and involved in everyday politics so that they are ready to hold all public servants to their duties, responsibilities, and promises, participate in the contentious process of nation-building themselves, and inspire others to do the same.

We re-launched the site in July 2010, this time offering original, syndicated, or partner-provided content, still mostly on news and current affairs. In February 2011, we decided to go the official route, establishing Pro Pinoy as a non-stock, non-profit corporation.

Pro Pinoy is a very young organization—we turned a year old just a few days ago—but I’m happy to say we’ve managed to rack up a few accomplishments in the short time that we’ve been operating. We have a great team—I’m not saying that just because I’m part of it—producing excellent posts and have been able to form strategic partnerships with other groups. Some of the content that we’ve published, such as the position paper on the broadband capping issue I mentioned earlier, has been cited by mainstream media outfits, and we were recognized in 2010 by the Philippine Blog Awards as the winner in the Society, History, and Politics category. We’ve also managed to maintain a good level of site traffic, even on slow days, and have a fairly active, if not always pleasant, comments section.

Some of our future plans include: redesigning the site, which is ongoing; increasing our lifestyle content; exploring multimedia content options; participating in and facilitating seminars and workshops; and focusing on community news, and it is in that last area that I think all of us here will be able to collaborate: we would be more than happy to help you tell your stories about what is taking place in your neighborhood and your organization.

What exactly does Pro Pinoy do? We’re engaged in what has been called “participatory journalism”. In point of fact, there are several terms for this practice, such as “citizen journalism”, “guerrilla journalism”, “networked journalism”, “open source journalism”, and “street journalism”, and one question that might immediately spring to mind is, “Is it even journalism?” My answer: “At its best, yes, it is journalism.”

Participatory journalism is defined by media consultants Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis in their paper We Media as follows: “[It is] the act of a citizen, or group of citizens, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information.” This runs the gamut from taking part in a text poll to undertaking investigations of an issue, and marks a departure from the relatively linear news model, which involves a media organization, influenced to some degree by advertisers, filtering and packaging information first before delivering it via a platform, such as a newspaper or a television show, to a mass audience.

In theory, members of the audience have always been able to speak back. If I want to react to a story, I can write a letter to the editor or express my response with my remote control or my wallet. What makes participatory journalism interesting and exciting, however, are all the conversations that take place simultaneously throughout the discursive environment, allowing the community to make itself felt in shaping news agendas.

I want to make it clear that participatory journalism is not a second-rate, trying hard copycat of traditional journalism, but a very different model altogether—one that is more about complementing, rather than competing with, how the business of news is being carried out by mainstream outfits. (Most of you probably don’t recognize this because you’re too young—it’s a screen capture of the legendary scene in Bituing Walang Ningning, where Cherie Gil throws a glass of water into Sharon Cuneta’s face.)

What, then, is participatory journalism for? Why do it? It allows for a more collaborative and more transparent process of information-gathering, admits a wider range of views, and facilitates the creation of richer, more intimate stories and conversations—the information we receive takes on tones and textures that it might not otherwise have, and therefore the quality and relevance of such is potentially higher. It also fosters in us a stronger sense of responsibility and control over our world, which is critical to a vibrant democracy.

2010 was actually an important turning point for participatory journalism, because for the first time in Philippine history, the Commission on Elections issued accreditation IDs to bloggers and online media organizations covering the elections—a development paralleled by the candidates’ incorporation of a wide array of digital tools, including social media, into their respective campaigns.

The Internet, as I’ve already shown, is a highly limited platform, and thus little that was done there could be said to have had dramatic impact on the outcome of the polls, but as Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist John Nery observed, “[…] what online does very well, even in the Philippine setting, is to create buzz. It […] can certainly be used to create word of mouth, to pique public curiosity and interest, to drive old media coverage.”

The CMFR also weighed in, saying, “[The coverage of online sites] provided a deeper look into issues overlooked by the mainstream media [and] provided a holistic approach to understanding the 2010 elections by balancing the sensational reports with critical stories.”

The Internet, of course, has a long way to go before becoming a true game-changer: while a 2010 Pulse Asia survey conducted from February 21 to 25 showed that media was the most influential source of information in choosing a president (64%), the most influential medium was TV (56%).

It might be helpful at this juncture to go over some of the findings in a study conducted by communication consultancy firm EON, Inc. from May to June 2011. Called the “Philippine Trust Index”, it sought to measure the level of public trust in key institutions: the church, the government, private industries, non-government organizations, and the media.

Among the 500 respondents, 64% said that they trusted the media “Very Much” and “Somewhat Much”. Asked to express their trust in an array of media channels, the results (“Very Much” and “Somewhat Much”) were as follows: 74% for television; 68% for online news sites; 66% each for newspapers and radio; 47% for social networking sites; and 37% for blogs. The latter two figures present an obvious challenge for participatory journalism, which, after all, relies on and is generated by social networking sites and blogs.

What, according to the same study, are the key drivers of trust in media? Fifty-eight percent said truthfulness; 35% said adherence to fairness; 3% said balanced reporting of good and bad news; and 2% each said delivery of news with social relevance and other reasons. It does not seem unreasonable to infer, then, that barriers to trust for participatory journalism include lack of editorial oversight, unethical practices, and the refusal to take responsibility—barriers that are not unrelated to the problematic behaviors of mobbing and uncritical thinking that I discussed previously.

If you’ve been following the impeachment proceedings of Chief Justice Renato Corona online, you may be familiar with what befell Raissa Robles, a professional journalist and a blogger. The Manila correspondent for the South China Morning Post, Robles has been assiduously working to bring out into the open, via her blog, issues and materials that are related to the charges that have been filed against Corona, and her laudable efforts have earned her no small amount of controversy. Recently, accusations surfaced that Robles was the “small lady” who had given Rep. Reynaldo Umali, a member of the prosecution panel, photocopies of documents pertaining to Corona’s deposit accounts in Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank). The information spread very quickly in the Internet community, in the manner of many a sensational story, but what facilitated the rapid dissemination of this particular rumor was a popular citizen media site that reported it without bothering to verify with Robles herself, who had issued categorical denials through Twitter and, later, in her blog. Mulling over the incident, Robles criticized the site and said, “This first-hand experience has given me a ringside view of how gossip turns viral and mutates in the process. And how people feel they can say anything on the Internet without any consequences or care.”

What happened was appalling for us at Pro Pinoy, of course, not only because it was downright irresponsible, but also because it would have a detrimental effect on how the public perceives participatory journalism. That said, we are more than willing to face the challenges that lie ahead of us, and look forward to overcoming them as a team.

By now, I’m sure I’ve brought up more issues and questions than we have ready, final answers for. My purpose, however, is not to befuddle unto paralysis—as I said at the beginning of my talk, I think it important to be keenly conscious of our context. As would-be change-makers, it behooves us to be aware that the task of social transformation, particularly using digital means, is freighted not only with promise—which the succeeding speakers will doubtless be able to show in their respective presentations—but also with peril, and we cannot realize the one without dealing thoughtfully and carefully with the other.

Thank you very much.

Jay Salazar

Jaime Oscar M. Salazar has been blogging intermittently since 2002. He lives and works in Metro Manila. His personal blog is Random Salt.

  • GabbyD ,

    on INTERNET LIBEL. i think i finally get why the cybercrime bill on libel is being resisted. people online dont want to be criminally accused of libel?

    “GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Journalist Edwin Espejo, who is based here, has submitted his counter-affidavit to refute the P18-M libel suit filed against him by car dealer Mohammad “Bong” Aquia, a friend of Sarangani Rep Manny Pacquiao.
    In his counter-affidavit, Espejo raised 4 points in assailing the libel raps of Aquia. 
    Rommel Bagares, executive director of Center for International Law and Espejo’s lawyer, said there is no statute governing libel in the Internet.”

    ah, very interesting. once an online libel law is formulated, this defense collapses. 
    i wonder tho, from a legal POV whether this defense holds water.

    • GabbyD ,

      i recently saw a video on gma7 where celebs say they’ve been “cyberbullied”. 

      i dont know what to think about it, but my intuition says their version of cyberbullying cannot/ought not be regulated.

      also, in twitter, cant you just block objectionable content?

      i hate “blocking” as a solution. i’d rather use community standards where people vote people’s comments as “dislike”, so show how the community views commenters and threads. 

      but i concede — its ultimately a person’s right to control what they see on the screen. 

      however, once you accept/advocate arbitrary blocking, then you implicitly accept REJECT free speech, and so you exit the public square (in the internet)

      • GabbyD ,

        wow, honestly, this exchange has left me stupefied. my points are all quite clear. in exchange, i get the strangest, weirdest, off-point criticisms.
        whats going on jay?

        • GabbyD ,

          huh? sabi mo jay: “Example No. 1:
          We are talking about the a bill that focuses on cybercrime. ”
          i put my comment on a NEW THREAD. that means IBANG TOPIC. [note: this is also on a NEW THREAD].
          the new topic being, the blog post as a whole. the title of which is “digitizing social change”.
          i said:  why waste precious advocacy space of the freedom to make money out of backyard porn?
          you wrote alot about other aspects on IT dev. why write down a paragraph defending backyard porn? i write that NOT BECAUSE its not defensible. like i said, there is a free speech argument.
          but i ask it coz there are so many more useful things to push. i’m sure even cocoy would agree!
          now, instead of being “appalled”, you could have written “we arent advocating it. we were …. [fill in blank here]”, OR “we believe its worth spending time on because [fill in blank here]”
          either would have been sufficient to address my (extremely simple) question. 
          but u didnt write that. u were too busy insulting me. note that i have NEVER DISPARAGED YOU, and said that you didnt think before you replied.
           but all i’m getting here are unfounded insults. 
          why not? because i HOPE for better, more mature discourse on the internet. i still hope for that. thats why i wont retaliate

          • GabbyD ,

            this blog post will soon disappear. i wanted to comment on other things:

            1) LIBEL. i am sympathetic with your opinion that criminalized libel is wrong. the solution is to change the law on libel. as long as that is the law, i dont understand why there is a differential treatment of said law between different kinds of speech.

            2) cyberbullying. — this is an example of more worthy things we should talk about (vs cybersex).
            i’m not even sure what the term means. what is cyberbullying? is saying “you are stupid” on your facebook wall sufficient?

            there is also (a much clearer) rationale for free speech consideration for cyber bullying. we arent protecteted from getting our feelings hurt. 

            but, we should also be protected from unwanted needling and harrassment. to be told one is fat is one thing;  to have your car painted with the world “TABA!” is another. 

            yeah, but this is an important issue. but back to voting against the cybercrime bill because it DOESNT INCLUDE THIS is strange. you can always modify the law later. its not a problem.

            • GabbyD ,

              ok. to be SUPER CLEAR– if i wasnt being totally clear before.

              in my earlier comment, i said that it is PORNOGRAPHY that is the relevant definition, NOT PROSTITUTION. 

              thus ur argument was misleading because of that. 

              now, re: ejusdem generis:. jay, i disagree with your interpretation/use of ejusdem generis when you claimed this: “If X performs for Y on camera in exchange for cookies, that is a favor. I do not believe that it can be classified under “money, profit, or any other consideration”.

              FIRST, that is a consideration. 

              SECOND, to use ejusdem generis, you have to show what is COMMON between “money” and “profits” as it relates to human beings specifically (not corporations, govt, NGOs, etc).

              so, in your opinion “currency” is what is common, which makes it a class. thats is one interpretation.

              however, i think it is flawed: in what sense does a human being earn PROFITS? 
              from Blacks dictionary: “The gain made by the sale of produce or manufactures, after deducting the value of the labor, materials, rents, and all expenses, together with the interest of the capital em- ployed.”

              now, does gain mean ONLY MONEY? no. it can be anything which has a money equivalent. money serves as a measure of value. but ANYTHING (of value) can measure value as well. 

              THIRD, to use ejusdem generis, u MUST fulfill the following:
              The Supreme Court in Amar Chandra vs. Collector of Excise, Tripura, AIR 1972 SC held that this rule applies when —(a) the statute contains an enumeration of specific words;(b) the subjects of enumeration constitute a class or category;(c) that class or category is not exhausted by the enumeration;(d) the general terms follow the enumeration;
              (e) there is no indication of a different legislative intent.
              OK, it must be that the class is NOT exhausted by the enumeration. in other words, there are other forms of “consideration” not listed under “money” and “profits”

              ok. under your theory of COMMON CLASS, what is an example of an UNENUMERATED EXAMPLE?

              would stocks be an example? what is the difference between THAT, VS,some other good or commodity, LIKE PEANUTS?

              how about gold? real estate [parenthetical, paying a prostitute any of these things would define the term high class hooker]

              • GabbyD ,

                this is something i don’t understand with this cybersex thing. i agree w much of this : about the importance of RCT, internet needs to be better, etc….

                i can also understand wanting to defend porn on the basis of freedom of expression. 

                but my thing is: why waste precious advocacy space of the freedom to make money out of backyard porn?

                is this the kind of user generated content  our society wants to encourage? this seems to be such a first world problem. 

                i wonder why its so important to put this on the top of the list of things to complain about in the cybercrime bill in the philippines, of all of the problems in the country?

                i want filipinos to make money online. but why focus on cyberspace sex?

                • GabbyD ,

                  why not advocate uses of ICT for more, uhm, conventional political speech? or for business dev? or interactive arts, the development of philippine comedy, action, drama, music (for example) online?
                  sa daming puwedeng pagusapan, why bother with cybersex?

                • GabbyD ,

                  this is a complex issue, which requires multiple threads. Here is thread number 1:
                  I. WHY DID TG VOTE AGAINST IT? he says :” I do feel it smacks, runs directly in contravention of the constitutional principle of freedom of speech and freedom of expression.”

                  Bakit? note that in the philippines, prior to the cybercrime bill, some forms of pornography are not illegal.

                  What is illegal is child pornography (which has a separate law), and trafficked individuals being hired for pornography.

                  RA9208 –>> it is illegal to:  (e) To maintain or hire a person to engage in prostitution or pornography.

                  RA 9208 defines pornography: “Pornography – refers to any representation, through publication, exhibition, cinematography, indecent shows, information technology, or by whatever means, of a person engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual purposes.”

                  so, clearly, if you HIRE someone to HAVE REAL/FAKE SEX (for SEXUAL GRATIFICATION) is 100% illegal. further, note that internet distribution is already part of it. 

                  Note that this law is far stricter than the US, where pornography is illegal under certain circumstances — obscenity test–that may vary by state.

                  However, this isnt the end of the story. you can make your own films, and film sex, earn money (or whatever) from it, and this (prior to the cybercrime bill) is legal. 

                  And this is TG’s fundamental objection: we, as individuals, can have sex and do whatever with it as we wish, INCLUDING, making money, or getting “consideration and favor” (to be defined) from it. 

                  this is the freedom of expression argument. in other words, making a sex tape, and doing whatever you want with it, is not necessarily wrong, esp if everyone in the tape knows and agrees with whatever was happening. (here is where hyden kho went awry — katrina didnt agree with, and was unaware of, the tape)

                  The cybersex bill, in its current form, prohibits people from making money, receiving favor or consideration for one’s free decision to film themselves doing the deed.

                  in other words, TG is protecting our rights to make a sex tape and do with it as we want, assuming everyone on it signs on freely (and is isnt hired to do so).

                  now, jay –> this is what TG wants to protect. do you want to protect this?

                  • Manuelbuencamino ,


                    FYI, the trial judge visited the scene of the “crime” and after looking at the room layout and where the video cam was placed, decided that there was no way Katrina could not have known she was being videotaped. 

                    TG wants to protect not only the making of sex tapes but also video chats. Good for him!

                    • GabbyD ,

                      yes. thanks for that info. the case was dropped. that case is only tangentially related 2 what we are discussing. no one was paid to do the sextape. none of the profits from it went to either. no one got anything from it. 

                      thus, the laws we have been discussing APPLY HERE. a different law applies here.

                    • Jay Salazar ,


                      You’ve taken this beyond my original contention—that the way that SB No. 2796 understands cybersex is broader than the way RA No. 9208 understands prostitution. Nor do I see why you think Sen. Guingona believes “we, as individuals, can have sex and do whatever with it as we wish, INCLUDING, making money, or getting ‘consideration and favor’ (to be defined) from it”, so I am uncertain there is any point to discussing this further with you.

                      To answer your question, however: Yes, I want to protect the right of people to make sex tapes, as long as it: (a) takes place between (or among) adults of sound mind; (b) is done consensually; and (c) is undertaken without pecuniary motives on the part of any party involved.

                      • GabbyD ,

                        Here’s the problem jay:

                        there is a difference between PROSTITUTION and PORNOGRAPHY. the latter is defensible under free speech. 

                        however, in the philippine context –> PORN is illegal (see my earlier post), when one is hired to be in a porn video.

                        cybersex is PORN by (potentially) consensual partners. it is the audiovisual rendering of a sex act which may or may not be actual sex. Also, it may be motivated by “favors and consideration” –> terms which are WELL UNDERSTOOD in law.

                        note: married people are exempt here.

                        TG understands that cybersex is porn, and wants to protect our right to make it –> REGARDLESS OF THE REASON, whether it be motivated by “considerations” or not.

                        [so  is this clearer?]

                        ok. there is where we are. Ang sabi mo as long as it is non-pecuniary, its OK?

                        so are you limiting this to CURRENCY?

                        what about: stock? airline tickets? goods? food? promises of a promotion? 

                        these are all examples of what “favor and consideration” are. any exchange of value to partipants are “CONSIDERATION”.

                        that is ALL OK WITH U?

                        if u say YES, then you are being perfectly consistent.

                        btw, if ANY OF THIS IS UNCLEAR, please tell me what confuses you and i will be happy to disabuse u.

                        i’ll address your ejusdem generis argument in another post.

                    • Anonymous ,

                      Cybersex Pilipinas style is NOT  abhorred by the world because of stimulation blah-blah-blah.

                      Cybersex-Pilipinas is abhorred because of  (1) underage performers;  (2) slavery.

                      Pilipinas lawmakers can do better ( in my opinion ) if they focus the laws on (1) and (2)…   and if, for the meanwhile, they just focus on underage performers,  that, alone, will be great progress.

                      PresiNoy should appoint one // Pilipinas really needs a solidly-performing anti-crime CZAR to implement the existing laws  ( again, this is my opinion ).

                      • GabbyD ,

                        ““For favor or consideration” and “for money, profit, or any other consideration” do not mean the same thing.”

                        so what can be considered criminal under the former definition that isnt in the latter one? husband and wife?

                        as i understand it, the word “favor” has a technical meaning under the law. what are you afraid of?

                        • Jay Salazar ,

                           I’m not cognizant of this “technical meaning” you speak of, but the reason that I’m concerned is the ejusdem generis rule: when a law lists specific objects, followed non-specific ones, the non-specific ones are understood to be of the same kind or class as the specific objects.

                          That is why “for favor or consideration” and “for money, profit, or any other consideration” do not mean the same thing.

                          If X performs for Y on camera in exchange for cookies, that is a favor. I do not believe that it can be classified under “money, profit, or any other consideration”.

                          • GabbyD ,

                            i dont get the logic. if the non-specific one is OF THE SAME KIND OR CLASS, how can not mean the SAME thing?

                            lets assume i strip for cookies. why shouldnt i be punished? what is the practical diff between cookies, cash, any consumable good?

                            is it OK to do sex work for consumables? NOT OK for durable assets? why draw that line?

                            • Jay Salazar ,

                              It would help immensely if one were to focus solely on my argument.

                              My contention is as follows: cybersex, as defined by Senate Bill No. 2796, has a broader scope than prostitution, as defined by Republic Act No. 9208. On what grounds do I say this?

                              SB No. 2796 defines cybersex this way: the “willful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favor or consideration”.

                              Here are two ways that SB No. 2796 does not use to define cybersex:

                              Definition A: the “willful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for money, profit, or any other consideration”.

                              Definition B: “engagement in prostitution, as defined by Republic Act No. 2796, with the aid of a computer system”.

                              If the legal minds behind SBN 2796 had intended to make cybersex equivalent to prostitution, albeit with the aid of a computer system, then it seems logical for them to use either Definition A or Definition B, as given above. They did not.

                              The qualifying phrases are also significant.

                              For prostitution, the qualifying phrase is: “for money, profit, or any other consideration”.

                              For cybersex, the qualifying phrase is: “for favor or consideration”.

                              I have already mentioned the ejusdem generis rule: when a law lists specific objects, followed non-specific ones, the non-specific ones are understood to be of the same kind or class as the specific objects.

                              When one looks at the qualifying phrase for prostitution, the non-specific term “or any other consideration”, following the ejusdem generis rule, would appear to take on a pecuniary character because of the preceding specific terms, namely “money” and “profit”.

                              On the other hand, when one looks at the qualifying phrase for cybersex, the non-specific term “or consideration”, again following the ejusdem generis rule, does not take on a pecuniary character, because the preceding specific term, “favor”, does not have it, either.

                              This brings me to my example of the cookies. It is intended to be slightly frivolous just to point up what I perceive as a problem in the bill.

                              If X performs a lascivious act in person for Y, with the understanding that Y will give X cookies in return, X is not committing a crime under RA No. 9208.

                              If, however, X performs a lascivious act via webcam for Y, with the understanding that Y will give X cookies in return, X is committing a crime under SB No. 2796.

                              Again, my contention is this: the way that SB No. 2796 understands cybersex is broader than the way RA No. 9208 understands prostitution.

                              The broader scope concerns me because I don’t understand its basis.

                              As Sen. TG Guingona has pointed out, it may actually legislate morality. A number of people consider cybersex as just one of many options for sexual bonding and expression (not because they are motivated by money, profit, or other similar considerations), and as far as I am concerned, that option should not be criminalized. This bill, once passed into law, may affect them adversely.

                              • Manuelbuencamino ,

                                If I understand you correctly, SB 2796 is aimed at criminalizing all cybersex and not only prostitution through cybersex. If that’s the case, then I’m with you. SB 2796 messes with the sex life of individuals, it dictates what form of sexual interaction is acceptable, it criminalizes what it deems unacceptable. Thus it violates an individual’s right to the pursuit of happiness. It’s none of the Senate’s business if a couple decide to undress before cameras while they are on a video chat. WTF?

                                • Jay Salazar ,

                                  Yes, exactly. It is none of the Senate’s business. Unfortunately, the language of the bill would seem to indicate that our legislators believe otherwise. It remains to be seen what the bicameral committee will do.

                                  • GabbyD ,

                                    so here is another disagreement between me and jay.

                                    “consideration” is a technical term. it is a part of contract law: “Something of value given by both parties to a contract that induces them to enter into the agreement to exchange mutual performances.”

                                    also: “Under the notion of “pre-existing duties,” if either the promisor or the promisee already had a legal obligation to render such payment, it cannot be seen as consideration in the legal sense.” this is marriage a marriage contract for example.

                                    hence, not all forms of cybersex are “illegal”. but i do think there are outstanding issues still unresolved.

                                    sexting by young people for example is an issue — and some have (in my opinion, mistaken) considered that possession of child pornography if sent to an older boy. but this is especially complex and thorny. 

                                    • Jay Salazar ,

                                      GabbyD, please pay attention: I invoked the ejusdem generis rule in my foregoing explanation.

                                      Let’s take a look at the definition of “consideration” you gave: “something of value given by both parties to a contract that induces them to enter into the agreement to exchange mutual performances”.

                                      “Something of value” is a non-specific description. Its meaning is highly contextual: value does not have to be pecuniary, for example.

                                      “Consideration”, as I have asserted earlier, is a non-specific term, and the non-specificity of its definition bears my assertion out.

                                      What sort of character does “consideration” have, then? That will depend on how it is situated in a given law.

                                      Allow me now to reiterate portions of my comment above:

                                      When one looks at the qualifying phrase for prostitution, the non-specific term “or any other consideration”, following the ejusdem generis rule, would appear to take on a pecuniary character because of the preceding specific terms, namely “money” and “profit”.

                                      On the other hand, when one looks at the qualifying phrase for cybersex, the non-specific term “or consideration”, again following the ejusdem generis rule, does not take on a pecuniary character, because the preceding specific term, “favor”, does not have it, either.

                                      • GabbyD ,

                                        ah, so I should pay attention? i’m the one who is out of context?


                                        i replied to MB. his point is: ‘If I understand you correctly, SB 2796 is aimed at criminalizing all cybersex and not only prostitution through cybersex”

                                        i replied: NO. not all forms of cybersex is criminalized. i relied on the construction in the cyber crime bill, which had “favor or any other considertation”

                                        ngayon: IKAW: sabi mo, mali ako kasi ejusdem generis with ANOTHER/SEPARATE LAW.

                                        regardless of whether you are right or wrong about ejusdem generis’ application in this intance is BESIDE THE POINT as that is NOT THE POINT MB IS MAKING.

                                        mb’s comments pertain ONLY to the interpretation of the CYBERCRIME bill. NOT to any other bill.

                                        thus to interpret what the bill outlaws, you must understand (and apply) the law as its written, independent of other laws.

                                        hence, i explained the concept of favor and consideration. this is HIGHLY RELEVANT MATERIAL. 

                                        i was definitely paying attention. 

                                        so, how about an acknowledgement that YOU were the one not paying attention?

                                        cmon, malinaw na paliwanag na yan ha. i was also very polite. 

                                        • Jay Salazar ,


                                          I acknowledge that I am appalled at your seeming inability to comply with a politely phrased, reasonable request of mine: that you pay attention to what I have written.

                                          Why do I say this? I will give you two particularly egregious examples.

                                          Example No. 1:

                                          We are talking about the a bill that focuses on cybercrime.
                                          Therefore, your question regarding the uses of ICT for “more, uhm, conventional political speech? or for business dev? or interactive arts, the development of philippine comedy, action, drama, music (for example) online?” is utterly irrelevant.

                                          None of forms of expression you mentioned are criminal in nature. The points you raise are not even remotely related to the topic of cybercrime.

                                          Example No. 2:

                                          This is part of what I said in my original post about cybersex:

                                          Evidently [the cybersex provision in the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012] is designed such that law enforcers can go after operators of cybersex dens, which unfortunately are burgeoning in the Philippines.

                                          This is part of what you said about cybersex:

                                          but my thing is: why waste precious advocacy space of the freedom to make money out of backyard porn?

                                          is this the kind of user generated content  our society wants to encourage? this seems to be such a first world problem.

                                          I am against criminalizing all forms of sexual interaction facilitated by a computer, but I am not against criminalizing some forms. Why? Because, as I mentioned in my original post, of cybersex dens, which make money out of coercing people, usually women, and many of them minors, into engaging in sexual activity online.

                                          That you would so cavalierly dismiss cybersex as a “first world problem”, without taking into account how it can actually be used to exploit people, is astounding. This is not a “first world problem” at all.

                                          In view of the foregoing, I do not believe it productive to try to converse further with you—on this, or on any other matter.

                                          You are, of course, still free to comment as you like.

                                          • GabbyD ,

                                            your example 2 makes ZERO SENSE.

                                            I wrote that defending backyard porn, which is what you were doing, is a first world problem.(noble, but not a priority) 

                                            i have no problems with the cybersex law. you are the one with the complaint.

                                            if u read your “explanation”, u might see it makes no sense either. 

                                            if u dont want to comment on this, no problem. but i am free to point out where you DONT MAKE ANY SENSE. 

                                            i wanna contribute to raising political discourse. so if u wanna step up your game, actually write down replies that make sense, i’m your man.

                                            • GabbyD ,


                                              i said that DEFENDING BACKYARD PORN, or the freedom to make money on your own sex tape is a first world problem.

                                              I LIKE THE CYBERSEX LAW (or at least dont object to it. 

                                              YOU are the one who are AGAINST THE CYBERSEX LAW. 

                                              let me highlight your strange paragraph here:
                                              “but I am not against criminalizing some forms. Why? Because, as I mentioned in my original post, of cybersex dens, which make money out of coercing people, usually women, and many of them minors, into engaging in sexual activity online.”

                                              does this paragraph make sense?
                                              you are not against criminalizing some forms because of some CRIMINAL forms (cybersex dens)?

                                              how does this paragraph make sense.

                                              so how about an apology for misconstruing my position on this whole debate?

                                            • Manuelbuencamino ,

                                              The point here is under the Senate definition all cybersex becomes criminalized.