MANILA - Thanks to unrelenting supporters on social media, presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte achieved in the 2016 elections victory that was aided in no small part by online supporters, a spokesman said.
Peter Laviña, Duterte's spokesman, has expressed gratitude to millions of Filipinos who followed and campaigned for the Davao City mayor on social networking sites, according to a report on radio dzMM.
Laviña said they counted on the support of 14 million social media volunteers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These people, he said, helped create awareness on, popularized, and helped Duterte win despite the Davao mayor camp's limited resources.
"Game-changer ang social media," the dzMM report quoted Laviña as saying.
On Facebook, Duterte's official page has achieved 3.09 million likes. The page started to immediately gain more followers after Duterte announced November 2015 that he would run for the presidency. Facebook officials have said Duterte’s page had the biggest growth for any page of a presidential candidate for the 2016 elections despite his late entry to the race.
He has 81,000 followers on Twitter, and several apparently supporter-initiated accounts on Instagram.
READ: How social media is shaping the 2016 elections
Laviña said social media volunteers helped increase Duterte's awareness rate. This was relatively lower than his rivals' awareness levels in 2015.
Despite lack of funds, Duterte's platforms also reached a wider base through social networking platforms, Laviña said.
Duterte also enjoyed support from famous personalities online, such as Mocha Uson and fictional character Senyora Santibañez.
Celebrities such as Aiza Seguerra, Kristine Hermosa, Robin Padilla, among others, also campaigned for Duterte through social media.
UNDISPUTED FACEBOOK KING
During the campaign period, Duterte was tagged by Facebook as the "undisputed king of Facebook conversations," with at least 64 percent of 15.2 million Filipinos conversing about elections discussing Duterte.
He was able to sustain this lead, registering about 100 million Facebooks likes, shares, comments, and posts about him between November 2015 and May 7, 2016.
In the hours leading to the May 9 elections, and even during election day, Duterte was the candidate with the most number of mentions on Facebook.
READ: Duterte is king of Facebook talk
Duterte's supporters were so avid online that even the mayor's camp had to call for sobriety at some point.
Facebook has said the Philippines is the most engaged in Asia Pacific when it comes to elections, as they observed a "transformed practice of democracy" where many Filipinos jumped into the rough and tumble of online campaigns.
“We’ve had a very engaged population here in the Philippines, we’ve had 22 million unique users here in the Philippines involved in the conversations and more than 268 conversations around the elections in the Philippines, so this has been the most engaged elections on Facebook in the Asia-Pacific,” Elizabeth Hernandez had said on election day.
Hernandez earlier said the social media phenomenon improved the Philippines' political process, making more Filipinos feel empowered.
“As many more people are engaged in elections then you’re getting different perspectives, different insights on the issues that they care about and they are most passionate about, the better it is for the political process, the better it is for the democracy and for the country,” Hernandez said.