Duterte, Cayetano lead in Facebook engagements

Alexander Villafania, ABS-CBN News

They may not be leading in the surveys, but people are talking about them on Facebook more than anyone else.

According to an insight report by Facebook, Davao Mayor and presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte and running mate Senator Alan Peter Cayetano are beating their rivals when it comes to social engagements on the social media network, garnering 59 percent and 42 percent, respectively.

Facebook looked into election-related conversations of 49 million monthly active users in the Philippines from November 30, 2015 to February 15, 2016.

For that period, 8.2 million people (16.7 percent) generated 45 million election-related interactions.

The company said it defined “election-related conversation” as posts that contain highly-specific and targeted keywords related to the election, candidates, parties, or specific topics.

They also calculated percentages as the number of unique people discussing a particular presidential candidate, out of the number of unique people discussing any of the presidential candidates.

Right behind Duterte is former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas III with 42 percent, followed by Senator Grace Poe with 31 percent.

Vice-President Jejomar Binay is at fourth place with 20 percent, while Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is in last place with 13 percent.

Binay was in the lead in the most recent survey by Social Weather Stations (SWS), while Poe took the top spot in the last Pulse Asia pre-election survey.

Meanwhile, Cayetano is being trailed closely by Senator Ferdinand Marcos who garnered 37 percent. Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo followed with 30 percent, Senator Francis Escudero with 14 percent, and finally, Senator Gregorio Honasan with a mere 2 percent.

Elizabeth Hernandez, head of Facebook APAC Public Policy, said that since November 2015, 8.2 million Filipino Facebook users have joined in on discussions about the elections.

She noted that they expect more engagements to happen on Facebook in the run up to the upcoming debates.

Facebook’s insight into their users’ election-related engagements also showed that at the top of the list of conversations for the period includes transparency (64 percent), economy (34 percent), education (25 percent), social welfare (21 percent), defense and foreign policy (21 percent) and health (16 percent).

Infrastructure (7 percent), environment (2 percent), and trafficking (1 percent) are at the lower rung of election-related conversations.

"Candidates are using Facebook to reach citizens directly and personally. They are having unfiltered conversations about important public policy issues and getting honest feedback from voters,” Hernandez said.