Fe San Juan Hidalgo is a 78 year old widow with a mission. This retired school teacher in Davao City is also a woman with a dream – to see clean elections during her lifetime.
“Lahat tayo may dream. Nasa atin yun paano natin makikita ang katuparan, sa pamamagitan ng pagkilos. We have to act para makamit ang panaginip (We all have dreams. How to realize our dreams is up to us, through our actions. We have to act to see our dreams come true),” Hidalgo said.
Acting on her own dream of clean elections, she joined almost 700 students, teachers and members of youth and community organizations gathered at Holy Cross University of Davao City for the second ABS-CBN Citizen Journalism Workshop for members of the Boto Mo iPatrol Mo movement.
According to her, the movement is in line with the voter education program she was single-handedly implementing in Davao City.
Using her meager pension, Hidalgo has been printing out pamphlets that answer simple questions of voters. “The pamphlets are self explanatory. I wish they can serve their purpose. I continue dreaming and will never give up,” Hidalgo said.
Hidalgo praised ABS-CBN for creating a movement to police the ballot as she listened to ABS-CBN’s News and Current Affairs officials give lectures on Boto Mo iPatrol Mo.
The Davao City event is the second of a series of workshops planned by ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs to orient Boto Patrollers on the principles and techniques of citizen journalism.
In Davao City, the Boto Patrollers were a bit more skeptical about their news reports. One even went so far as to ask how they could guard against the possible manipulation of their news reports.
ABS-CBN’s Arlene Burgos said the reports would go through three checks before being aired or published, a verification check, a counter check, and an actual investigation by local representatives.
Senior Vice President for News Maria Ressa said that the reports would have to go through this verification because the network has to guard against being “used.”
“Our reputation is at stake here. We will not air something that we have not verified. That is what is expected of us as professional journalists. That’s what we can offer,” Ressa said.
ABS-CBN first launched the Boto Mo Ipatrol Mo campaign in the 2007 elections. It was widely successful in getting citizens to help police the mid-term and local elections. ABS-CBN has since widened its scope in the run-up to the 2010 polls and renamed the campaign Boto Mo iPatrol Mo: Ako ang Simula.
Ressa was joined by ABS-CBN Newsgathering head Charie Villa and ABS-CBN News Channel COO Glenda Gloria as they talked about the movement, how to be a journalist and broadcast their own news reports, and the ethics of journalism.
They said all ordinary citizens should be empowered to speak out about their votes as they have a stake in the 2010 polls.
At the last count, the movement boasts of almost 15,000 members, all of them ready and willing to patrol and guard their votes during the 2010 elections.