Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A case for political fact checking in the Philippines

I was wondering how social media or the new media could help improve the debates in the 2010 Philippine presidential elections until I came across Factcheck.org. This site, being run by a non-partisan and non-profit group from the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, monitors the factual accuracy of the statements, ads, speeches, interviews, and news releases by major US political players. The g goal is “to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.”

It's motto: "Holding politicians accountable."

Recent example: “Obama says his health care plan will garner large savings – $120 billion a year, or $2,500 per family – with more than half coming from the use of electronic health records. And he says he’ll make that happen in his first term.” The group says that statement is “overly optimistic, misleading and, to some extent, contradicted by one of his own advisers. And it masks the true cost of his plan to cover millions of Americans who now have no health insurance.” Then the group proceeds to explain and analyze why Obama is wrong.

There’s also a lot fact checking stuff on John McCain, and Hillary Clinton policy pronouncements.

We need something like this for the 2010 presidential election. In fact, we need it to enhance and advance democracy in this country. Who should do this? Suggestion: why not our universities like UP, Ateneo, LaSalle, UST and others form a consortium for this? They should gather a pool of experts, researchers and a secretariat for this effort as soon as possible. Local and multilateral institutions who care about “governance” may contribute money to finance its operations.

This way politicians and decision-makers would be forced to study and think through the issues before they could even think about opening their mouths.

What do you think?

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