“Bayan Mo iPatrol Mo” (BMPM), the largest in the country and ABS-CBN’s citizen journalism arm, continues to organize voters’ empowerment and citizen journalism workshops that teach citizens skills for mobilizing campaigns and encourage them to vote based on important national issues.
BMPM has come a long way from being the election-focused campaign “Boto Mo iPatrol Mo” established in 2007 that primarily called on citizens to patrol their votes by using technology and social media.
BMPM, which has almost half a million Bayan Patrollers, reflects the growing influence of citizen journalism as a year-round vehicle for change and citizens’ strengthened capacity to expand the use of social media – from mere reportage to organizing platforms for causes and advocacies.
In Iligan City, Bayan Patrollers launched collaborative projects to bring attention to the plight of Typhoon Sendong evacuees and the nagging problems of illegal logging in the region.
Batangas province students from different communities are networking on social media to map out their most serious infrastructure problems and the effect these have on their lives.
In Surigao, citizen journalists attended workshops to learn how to broadcast the consequences of environmental abuse in their communities.
And in Ubay, Bohol youth launched a campaign to force local government officials to fulfill a promise to complete a high school that lacked walls, windows and even a basic bathroom for students.
“It is impressive to see youth aware of the need to use social media and digital technology for those without access to it,” said Ging Reyes, head of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs. She pointed out that in key cities, the youth have pledged to serve their communities by helping voters find out their precincts’ locations even before election day. This, she pointed out, would help minimize election day chaos that frays tempers of both voters and poll watchers.
In the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, advocates of Fully-Abled Nation and BMPM volunteers used lessons in community engagement to launch a community help service to help transport differently abled voters to polling places.
Youth are also using social media to spread the need for independent votes. Students of the University of St. La Salle (USLS) Bacolod City started the ball rolling with a video pledge: “My vote is my birthright, it is not for sale.”
This has since been translated by Bayan Patrollers in Baguio, Naga City, Cebu City, Tacloban City, Zamboanga City, Surigao City, Cotabato City, Cagayan de Oro City and other communities into their local languages. In election violence-plagued Masbate, even high school students are involved in turning around a perennial problem with the production of a video message appealing to their parents to safeguard the integrity of their votes.
BMPM head Inday Varona explained the significance of BMPM’s evolution to citizens who see it not only as a platform for exposing election-related problems but as a tool to hold people in power accountable.
“We have cleaner, safer elections when we maintain vigilance in between elections. That includes community concerns and social services. Our Bayan Patrollers don’t just report but have built a community where they interact about issues that are relevant to them,” she said.
She reported that of the 24 exclusive Bayan Patroller reports aired on ABS-CBN’s newscasts, 13 led to the completion of long-delayed projects, sanctions imposed on erring government officials, and the rescue of endangered animals and people in vulnerable and dangerous situations.
As the May election approaches, more workshops will be conducted in schools and universities in Lanao del Norte, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Bulacan, Bukidnon, and Metro Manila.
Kung may nagaganap sa Bayan Mo, iPatrol Mo, send reports and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet them to @bayanmo, or upload them to bmpm.abs-cbnnews.com and www.facebook.com/bayanmoipatrolmo.akoangsimula.