Brillantes admits being tech 'illiterate'

by Ivy Jean Vibar,

Posted at Feb 21 2013 12:14 PM | Updated as of Feb 21 2013 08:31 PM

Twitter changed my 'sweet personality' – Brillantes

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. admitted in a forum Thursday that he is an “IT illiterate,” but assured voters that the country's second automated elections in May will nonetheless be successful.

“Preparing for the automated elections in May 2013 is not a simple job. This is what I learned as an IT (information technology) illiterate. There are so many complications in technology,” Brillantes said at the Hyatt Hotel in Manila, during the eDemokrasya conference on the use of social media and technology for democracy promotion.

“We can handle the automated elections. We are prepared for it. I believe that as chair of Comelec and with the assistance of my colleagues here, we will be able to proceed with success.”

Election stakeholders have criticized the use of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, with recent mock polls showing failures in the technology provided by Comelec’s partner, Smartmatic.

The poll body dismissed rumors of vote-fixing being possible in the polls, and vouched for the security of PCOS data processes.

Together with the National Bureau of Investigation, the Comelec earlier entrapped so-called manipulators who claimed they can tweak the PCOS machines to ensure the win of candidates. Brillantes said they are mere frauds since the machines could not easily be manipulated.

Dealing with Facebook, Twitter

Meanwhile, Brillantes said social media is another aspect of technology that has made the 2013 polls more complicated.

He said it is a new frontier for the poll body. Information is hard for them to monitor and he personally finds it difficult to deal with negative “tweets” against Comelec.

“The Philippines is an archipelago. Social media makes it easier to talk. [But the] negative effect of this is that all the other people have also said so many negative tweets,” he said.

“I don't like it, I would rather stay outside the government than stay in it and get hit left and right.”

He admitted to being ignorant of social media platforms until only a year ago.

“It was only last year that I opened my Twitter and Facebook (accounts). When I opened it, in only a few hours, I was infused with so many questions. I said 'close it again, please,'” he said. "But I got used to it."

“Don't use Twitter or Facebook when you don't feel good. You have to be very sweet to use Twitter. I have never been sweet for the last 73 years. I had to change my personality.”

Comelec has said that while it will regulate online election campaigns, regulations do not cover the social media accounts of private citizens on Facebook and Twitter.