From GMA-7 and CNN: Special reports to educate voters 

CHEERS TO GMA-7 and CNN Philippines for getting off the beaten track of reporting campaign sorties and producing special segments in their news programs to help voters make informed decisions in the upcoming election. 

The two networks address audiences from different sectors of society. GMA-7’s use of Filipino connects more effectively with the more populous communities that make up the greater number of voters. But  voter education is needed by all Filipinos whatever their economic or class background. The differences in  CNN and GMA-7’s approaches add up to their reaching a bigger media audience and expanding the power of public instruction. 

GMA-7’s “Dapat Totoo” segment on 24 Oras

The powers and influence of the president by Pia Arcangel, March 31

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Screengrab from 24 Oras YouTube video

This report brought in two experts, Dr. Maria Fe Mendoza, professor at the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration, and Governance and Prof. Roland Simbulan, Vice Chair of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance. 

Mendoza noted how in our presidential system, executive power can influence other branches of government. The power to appoint officials can ensure the support of separate and co-equal branches of government for the president’s policies. Simbulan pointed to the president’s potential to influence policy and lawmaking by working with political allies in the legislative branch, citing as an example Congress’ responsibility in the passing of the national budget.

The role of the youth in elections by Ivan Mayrina, April 4 


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Screengrab from 24 Oras YouTube video

Another report called attention to the youth vote, which makes up 33 percent of registered voters for the May elections. Sociologist Louie Benedict Ignacio emphasized the  participation of the youth in electoral activities. He noted that they are also more vocal, unafraid to voice their concerns even if these may provoke negative reactions or  perceived as too controversial. The report featured a young first-time voter who reminded others that the “micro act” of casting one’s vote can have a “macro effect” on the future of the country. 

Political dynasties by Kara David, April 7

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Screengrab from 24 Oras YouTube video

The report shared the findings of the Ateneo School of Governance (ASOG) on political dynasties in government. David discussed the pending laws needed to enforce Article II, Sec. 26 of the 1987 Constitution, which mandates the state to ensure equal access to opportunities for public service and to prohibit political dynasties. ASOG’s Dean, Prof. Ronald Mendoza, described the different types of political dynasties and their negative impact because  their members tend to protect their  interests instead of the public good. 

Citing data gleaned by ASOG, David showed the dominant presence of political families in local and national government. She concluded with a reminder that more than a candidate’s name, the track record, ability, and willingness to serve with integrity should be the basis for selecting the country’s next leaders.

The party-list system by Maki Pulido, April 13

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Pulido featured the findings of election watchdog KontraDaya on party-list groups running in the May elections. She provided a brief background on Republic Act 7941 or the Party-list System Act, which was designed to expand the representation marginalized groups in Congress. 

The report said 63 seats are available in the 2022 elections and each party-list group can win up to three seats. UP Professor Danilo Arao, KontraDaya’s Convenor, warned that the race, currently dominated by political dynasties and big businesses, can further push the marginalized to the sidelines.

GMA-7 fielded its leading reporters and anchors whose segments on voter education blended seamlessly into the flow of the newscast, demonstrating how such instructional content can keep viewers interested. The reports showed how academic research can be presented as relevant, connecting these to people’s own experience of bad government. The two reports on political dynasties reminded voters that they should check out how political families have performed their duties to serve their constituents. The message emphasized the power of the citizen to withhold their vote from undeserving candidates.

GMA subsidiary, GTV’s “Votebook” segment State of the Nation, April 8

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Atom Araullo laid out practical advice in his report on “fake news”: verify the source, date, and nature of a news item. The context was also clear: fake news has become part of campaign information, an overwhelming amount of which bombards netizens on a daily basis. Araullo also shared tips on how to spot manipulated photos and videos. Dominic Ligot, a data analyst and founder of the advocacy group Data Ethics PH, said the “viral” nature of fake news engages more than real news, because designed to attract and appeal to those engaged in social media. He warned how one engagement can open up the gates to a flood of fake news that sweeps users into “echo chambers,” cutting the user out of any other authentic conversation. 

This report stands out in terms of its relevance to the elections, as campaign teams and candidates themselves have been running loose with facts and figures, making all sports of claims about rival candidates, and using “fake news” as a way to win voters. The message is clear: Voters beware, and do something about it! 

CNN Philippines’ “Election law for all” segment by Atty. Al Agra on New Day

Laws are not easy to report. People may listen but feel that the topic is too complicated and difficult to understand. The report promotes awareness of election laws to enable the ordinary citizen to be alert and to check those whose political goals drive them to interpret these in a way that allows violations of the law. 

The electoral process, April 4

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The series of reports kicked off with Agra tackling the electoral process from start to finish, laying out a timeline from the filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COC) in October 2021 to the day of the election itself. 

In separate episodes on April 7 and 11, Agra discussed vote-buying, voters’ roles, their rights and responsibilities. He called on citizens to serve as poll watchers, to lodge protests against irregularities in order to safeguard the integrity of the process. 

Do’s and dont’s for voters, April 13

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The professor enlivened his presentation with his “Botan-tips” to inform voters of common practices that are either allowed or prohibited during election season. The law allows campaigning for or against a candidate and displaying campaign materials in houses, but prohibits coercing employees to vote for a candidate. 

Philippine elections are regulated by a decades old Code. In 2022, voters have become more vocal about the problems caused by the Omnibus Law. And yet, the law is the only mechanism available to regulate the electoral process. Citizens must learn to scrutinize the law to check violations and ensure the integrity of the vote on May 9. More important, the public has to prepare to campaign for necessary amendments. 

Every effort should be made to make voter education more appealing and easier to understand. CMFR suggests more graphics and visuals to capture and hold audience interest by embedding in them  knowledge about their rights and obligations as  voters. 

In an age of disinformation and fake news, the challenge can be overwhelming. But the news media must take a leading role in addressing the lack of public awareness and the need for active engagement in the electoral process. 

CMFR cites these efforts to redefine news so that the public can be better informed as voters. News is a form of continuing public education when journalists are willing to go beyond the surface details of events as these happen. History and background, process and legal framework – these can be incorporated in the daily news programs to prepare voters for the sovereign task of choosing wisely in May.