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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Google Launches Resource Page for Philippine Elections



Wazzup Pilipinas!

Google released its Philippine elections page, a one-stop online hub for all election-related information such as broadcast and written news, candidate and precinct details, debates, etc. Google has worked with several broadcast and online news stations to develop this page and help make our local and absentee voters more informed come election day. The page can be accessed at www.google.com.ph/elections.

Filipino voters can now visit one site to keep abreast with election news from different media outlets. Broadcast networks ABS-CBN, GMA, PTV, and SOLARtv, and online news portals Rappler, PhilStar.com, Inquirer.net and Interaksyon.com collaborated with Google Philippines to create Google.com.ph/elections. The site is a one-stop online hub for elections-related news and information created to help 53 million Filipino voters, including 700,000 absentee voters abroad, stay updated about the coming polls.

“We want to make sure citizens have a quick access to information to help them make informed decisions on election day,” said Narciso Reyes, Google Philippines Country Manager. “This is part of our commitment to bring to the Filipinos essential information that will make their lives easier and more meaningful.”

The Elections Page will allow Filipinos to engage with candidates through a variety of Google’s platforms, such as live-streamed debates on YouTube hosted by the media collaborators. “Through the different components we included on the page, Filipinos can discuss issues with the candidates, or exchange views with reporters or other citizens on Google+ Hangouts. There’s a lot of information on it, from political party backgrounds to list of candidates, so there’s less reason for voters not to be updated with the daily grind of the election season,” said Ryan Morales, Google Philippines Head of Marketing.

The page curates stories from different news sites and hosts up-to-date broadcast coverage from the networks’ YouTube channels. Elections-related incidents provided by the online news collaborators are also plotted on Google Maps embedded on the page to inform the public about events taking place in different parts of the country. This will help election watchers focus on hotspots and monitor how events are unfolding in these areas.

Another key component of the page is the Precinct Finder, which makes voting centers easy to find based on city, region and the voter’s precinct number. Precinct locations are currently being plotted on Google Maps by volunteers and will be available on the page before May 13, 2013.

The Philippine Elections page is the first online initiative to bring together multimedia content from the country's large media outfits. This collaboration between the networks and Google aims to encourage people to be more participative and critical of what candidates aspire for the nation. It also allows voters to have a deeper understanding of politics and governance through engagement with the candidates.

"This effort merges traditional with new media and revolutionizes how election information is shared online,” said Gail Tan, Google Philippines Communications Manager. “The great thing about this information aggregation is that it complements the Pinoy culture of sharing. It also transforms social media into a progressive platform for forming opinions, which enriches public discourse, and helps our electorate – from the first time voters to busy professionals, and even our overseas Filipino workers who can now have easy, first-hand access to election news,” she added.

Howie Severino, GMA Vice President for Multimedia Journalism and GMA News Online Editor-in-Chief agrees, saying, “We're glad to be contributing to Google's effort to inform Filipino voters using content produced by Filipino journalists. Democratic rights in the Philippines coupled with the technology in their hands make many Filipinos super-empowered citizens. Well-curated information will help ensure that their power is used with discernment on election day and beyond.”

Google created its first elections page five years ago when its engineers noticed a huge increase in search traffic around the election period in the United States. Today, 16 countries including Malaysia, Thailand, and now, the Philippines, have elections pages that aid voters in their decisions before elections are due.

“Google's election page will definitely contribute in shaping our smart voters, particularly the youth. Because the vote of an informed voter could help shape the future of our nation. And a highly informed voter is more likely to vote than those who are not,” said Clift Daluz, SOLARtv Head of News Online.

“When people choose their leaders, an informed electorate makes the best choice. Sites online such as Google's election page give people accurate information that help them use the power of their vote intelligently,” said Dinah Libunao, PTV Head of New Media.

“With more resources available online, catching up on election news becomes a simple but crucial step in honing more discerning voters. We hope the Elections Page does just that,” said Deborah Nga, Country Lead for the Philippines on Public Policy and Government Affairs, Google Southeast Asia.

The Google Philippines Elections Page can be accessed at google.com.ph/elections.

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