Palace taps social media, launches new website

By David Dizon, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Aug 16 2010 12:34 PM | Updated as of Aug 17 2010 12:47 AM

Palace taps social media, launches new website 1MANILA,  Philippines (UPDATE) - Malacañang on Monday launched a new website that allows the public to interact with President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and top government officials.

Secretary Herminio "Sonny" Coloma said the Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) said the new website (www.president.gov.ph) updates the public on the official appearances and events of the President as well as offer a venue where they can air all their concerns regarding the government.

"The emphasis is really on gathering feedback . The real value of this website is not in the development or the infrastructure itself but the wealth of information and the quality of the feedback that we will be able to gather from the citizens," he told Malacañang reporters.

Coloma said the website will accept all comments and ideas from citizens in the hopes of generating a "groundswell of civic spiritedness and public participation" in the country.

He said the website had already garnered 16,000 page views from 94 countries 3 hours after its launch Monday noon.

The website provides links to the official websites of government departments and includes a forum for transparent government that allows users to post comments and complaints on any government agency.

It also has a forum called "Panata sa Pagbabago" that will allow individuals or civic organizations to make a vow for change.

The site has separate sections on official photos issued by the Malacañang Photo Bureau, as well as video clips of Malacañang activities uploaded on video-sharing site YouTube.

Separate links to the official Malacañang pages on Facebook, Twitter, Friendster, YouTube and Multiply are also provided. A page on the site titled "Tito Noy" also invites children to become active nation-builders by helping to bring back traditional Filipino values.

Coloma said President Aquino is bent on using social media tools to engage the public more effectively and to fast-track government services to the people. He said the President was briefed on the look and feel of the website even while he was preparing for his State of the Nation Address last month.

He said Aquino personally answers some of the questions on his Twitter account during and after the campaign. "During the campaign, he had some time to do that. Selectively he can do that. If not, someone else manages it. There's quality control in that aspect to ensure that his views are reflected there," he said.

He said Malacañang will maintain the official website www.gov.ph, which will serve as the official gazette of the Aquino administration.

"[It] is a requirement of law that all official issuances of the President and all laws of the Republic be published on the official gazette. That is why we are linking to that. We are careful that everything we put here will complement what is already in the official gazette. This is a team effort anyway, we are just one communications group," he said.

He, however, that the PCOO will study the possible streamlining of the Office of the Press Secretary website (www.news.ops.gov.ph), which houses the same content as the President's website.

Palace takes on 'jejemons'

Coloma said he also expects the President's website to receive comments in "jejespeak", a type of text language used by some Filipino Internet users called "jejemons." Jejemons supposedly originated from online users' penchant to type in "jejeje" instead of "hehehe" to denote laughter. The "jeje" is appended to "mon", which came from the Japanese cartoon "Pokemon."

The communications secretary said the website will install filters to remove comments made by jejemons but added that he expects participants to police their own ranks in the forums. He said the new website will also filter out foul language from users.

"Maaaring may mga ganung participants but through the dynamics of the process, more will insist on using ordinary or common language and reserve that - jejemon-- for other instances. There will be a built-in element of self-disciple and self-policing in the website," he said.

He said Aquino's own Facebook page does not filter out swear words or comments but allows users to police the forum.