Philippines: First Online Press Conference

An online press conference, a first in Philippine internet history, was held last September 21 when the 34th anniversary of Martial Law was commemorated by Filipinos.

The online press forum was conducted by partylist representative Satur Ocampo, a former journalist and political detainee. The event, which was facilitated by Yehey!, a Philippine-based internet portal, was covered by journalists from the Philippines, Hong Kong, Australia and the United States.

Babelmachine, one of the bloggers who covered the online forum, ponders on the uniqueness of this activity:

“What makes this online press conference particularly significant is that it's another example of how technology can be used to encourage political discourse and safeguard freedom of expression. It's particularly apt considering that Martial Law sought to curtail these freedoms.”

Then he related how technology has been tapped in modern Philippine politics:

“After all, the Philippines has seen many instances when technology was used as a tool to empower the public, such as the online demonstrations against the corrupt administration of former President Joseph Estrada, and the text brigade that rallied Filipinos to the second Edsa People Power revolution in 2001.”

Bryanton Post, another journalist who reported the activity, summarizes the issues tackled during the media chat with Congressman Ocampo. The coup in Thailand was discussed especially its impact on the Philippines:

“According to Ka (Comrade) Satur, the Philippines has a different political dynamics and historical experience from Thailand. “But what must be noted that the problems that plagued Thaksin were the same as those that beleaguered (President) Gloria M. Arroyo – issue of legitimacy, corruption, political repression.” He added however that a military resolution of these issues is not the way, adding that the military played a big role in Arroyo’s sins against the people.”

Tonyo, a staffer in the Philippine Parliament, narrates the initial glitches in the press conference, as well as the excitement felt by everyone who participated in the historic activity.

Other bloggers who wrote about the online press forum: Challenge and Movements described it as the “revolutionization of press conferences,” Cyberbaguioboy and Manuel L. Quezon III who commented that it was an “interesting experiment.”

Mr. Ocampo became a blogger this year when he was forced to seek protection inside the Parliament building since police threatened to arrest him together with five other progressive Solons for “plotting to overthrow the government.” Read his blogger profile.


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