By Carlo S. Ople
I was just reading the latest articles on the recently concluded Anti Con-Ass rally on Inquirer.Net. According to the police, this rally had the lowest turnout, around 6,000 based on their estimates.
The organizers, on the other hand, claim that they had 13,000-15,000 warm bodies. You got to ask yourself the question: despite all the outrage this issue has generated, why only 15,000 people went to the streets?
I’m sure there are varied reasons but at the end of the day the measurement of success for events like this is the number of participants. Sadly 15,000 is not representative of the majority of the Filipino people and can easily be dismissed by the politicians pushing for Con Ass.
However, the good news is that on the Internet, we have almost double the number of the people who went to the rally sign up on the “Stop Con Ass Now” cause on Facebook. As of this writing, there are almost 28,000 sign-ups on the cause.
With that in mind, I came up with this short article explaining the strengths of Cyberactivism and why it should be taken seriously not just by the proponents, but also by politicians and organizers who want to provide a platform for the citizens to be part of a cause.
Physical Rallies can be Inconvenient
Let’s face it, life these days is hard. Missing a day of work means a salary deduction or a lost vacation/sick leave. The reality is a lot of Filipinos will not “pay” to be part of a rally by missing work. I think this was the biggest hurdle a lot of office workers had to face in Makati when they wanted to join the rally last night. This was the sentiment of several colleagues I have here in the office.
Rallies also need a convergence point. You physically have to be in one spot on a specific time to be able to make the effort count. This literally makes the rally limited since those who are outside of Manila, especially those in Visayas and Mindanao, cannot participate because they won’t buy a plane ticket and fly all the way here to protest Con Ass.
Virtual Rallies, on the other hand, are completely the opposite. All you need to have to be part of it is to have access to the Internet. The good thing these days is that there are more than 10,000+ Internet cafes spread all over the Philippines and most of them charge very reasonable and affordable rates.
There are a few cafes in Davao that charge as low as P5/hour. By going to the worldwide web, you transcend the inconveniences brought about by physical rallies. You’re still counted and your part of the movement without having to spend that much time, resources, and effort.
Physical Rallies end when they’re finished
This, I think, is the biggest weakness of physical rallies. When the crowd disperses, the event ends, especially if there were only a few or an average number of attendees. Other succeeding rallies are usually treated as separate efforts and they don’t really all add up in terms of metrics.
And that I think is one of the strongest qualities of Virtual Rallies. The moment a person joins, he’s in it for the long haul. The count is cumulative regardless of the time and space. As long as the website is up and running, people will be counted. That’s the reason why the Facebook Cause against Con Ass is already nearing 30,000 sign-ups. Imagine if we give it more time? That number will continue to grow and eventually might even end up more than 100,000.
What is more effective in pushing for a cause? An unsure attendance of 6,000-15,000 in a rally in Makati or a virtual representation of more than 100,000?
Organizers of the Anti Con Ass Campaign should really take Cyberactivism seriously. Given the right firepower, the Facebook approach might actually be more effective in the long run.
Carlo Ople is the main author of New Media Philippines (http://newmedia.com.ph), a blog that aims to help Filipinos maximize and realize the potential of New Media. Apart from being a blogger, Carlo also serves as a Marketing Manager for one of the leading online gaming companies in the Philippines. He is also a freelance digital marketing consultant and has worked with various politicians and business owners expand their reach and influence through the use of social media. Read more about him at New Media Philippines (http://newmedia.com.ph)
Senators Wednesday supported the enactment of a stronger legislation aimed against Internet sex videos after a Filipino actress sought the help of the Senate in pursuing filing criminal charges against a celebrity doctor.
Actress Katrina Halili Wednesday arrived at the Senate to ask Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for assistance in filing a case against celebrity doctor Hayden Kho for allegedly circulating in the internet their “sex video.”
Halili, accompanied by her lawyers Mamyrlito Tan and Raymond Palad, went to Revilla’s office at around 2 p.m. Members of Revilla’s staff said she started to cry the moment the media men were asked to leave the room.
Dressed in green halter blouse and gray skinny jeans, Halili merely shook her head when asked for any statement regarding her intention to file charges against Kho.
But behind closed doors, Revilla and Halili briefly discussed the circumstances that the actress would encounter regarding her impending legal action against Kho. Afterwards, the senator accompanied the actress to the NBI to file appropriate charges against the doctor.
“Sinimulan ko ito, tatapusin ko,” Revilla told reporters in an interview.
When asked what specific case they would be filing against Kho, Revilla said: “Titingnan pa natin. Abangan n’yo na lang kung ano ang maaari nating isampang kaso laban kay Dr. Kho at sa mga kasabwat niya. Sisikapin natin na mapigilan pa ang pagkalat nito (sex video).”
Revilla said he has assured Halili that he will help her in achieving justice over Kho’s videotaping and presumed spreading of the video.
“I will make sure that Halili will get justice,” he said adding that “The case would be an eye-opener to the country on the proliferation of the so-called sex-scandal videos that is already alarming and not entertaining at all.”
Revilla, in a privilege speech last Tuesday, demanded the Professional Regulation Commission to revoke Kho’s medical license. The NBI has also vowed to conduct a thorough investigation into Kho’s “sex videos.”
“I already talked to NBI Chief Nestor Mantaring over the phone after my privilege speech and he assured me that the NBI will probe the matter,” he said. Revilla also praised Halili for her courage and determination in seeking justice against Kho.
“I really admire Katrina for refusing to be a victim forever. This is no longer Katrina’s fight alone but the fight of all Filipinas against harassment and exploitation,” he said.
Revilla acknowledged the women’s rights group Gabriela and Halili’s lawyers for rallying behind the actress’ cause for justice.
He cited Section 24 of the Republic Act No. 2382 or the Medical Act of 1959 whereby immoral or dishonorable conduct and even insanity are among the grounds for reprimand, suspension or revocation of a doctor’s certificate of registration.
Revilla also pushed for the passage of his Anti- Pornography Bill which seeks to slap stiffer penalties against those who publish, broadcast and exhibit pornographic materials through the use of traditional media, internet, the “cyberspace,” cellular phones and other forms of media.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago also agreed that Halili’s case now raises the need to start a national debate on the free expression and censorship.
“This is a problem that faces Internet providers and users all over the world. Even in the United States they cannot simply prevent predators from preying on very young girls, some of whom have ended up dead. We can actually do it technologically, but we will have to spend a lot of money, and then there would be a great national debate on free expression and censorship,” Santiago said.
Sen. Pilar Juliana Cayetano, meanwhile, called on other women victims of sex scandal videos circulating in the Internet and being peddled like pirated DVD movies in public to file court cases against their violators for causing them emotional and psychological anguish and violation of privacy.
“It is not difficult to understand why most of them decide to remain silent or retreat to ignominy instead of thinking of fighting it out in court because the pain and humiliation they have to go through is unthinkable,” she said.