The Virtual Plaza Miranda


“Maipagtatanggol ba natin ito sa Plaza Miranda?” 
Plaza Miranda. Image source: Wikipedia
It is said that that question—“Can we defend it at Plaza Miranda?”—was the litmus test of the late President Ramon Magsaysay regarding everything and anything that his government said or did. (Plaza Miranda is the historic freedom park located in the heart of Manila.)

That’s the same test that Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III sought to submit every law crafted in the halls of the Senate and Congress through SBN 73 or the Philippine Crowdsourcing Bill of 2013. According to Section 1 of the said bill, “This Act seeks to allow the people to participate in the legislative process, online and/or with the use of information and communications technology, providing effective and responsive mechanisms therefor.” (To read the full text of SBN 73, click here

Senator TG explained in his privilege speech that it is “a ‘virtual’ Plaza Miranda. …asking large groups of people to contribute their ideas. … In that arena of ideas, we shall let the netizens of our country examine it; scrutinize it; even rip it apart.” He also mentioned Iceland which crowdsourced its constitution.

This is how crowdsourcing would work.
Image source: The Guingona Project
Instead of trying (in vain) to censor social media, this bill seeks to harness its power for our good.

When I asked Senator TG if this the first step towards having a Freedom Of Information (FOI) law, he answered, “The problem with the FOI is not with the Senate.” Every senator has filed his or her version of the FOI. (So, who are the ones blocking the FOI, then? Your guess is as good as mine.) The FOI's vision is for the government to be open to public scrutiny.

Senator TG Guingona with bloggers at the #CrowdsourcePH launch.
Image source from FB page of Sonnie Santos (the guy wearing black).
Of course, there will be security concerns including how to protect it against hacking and how to deal with anonymous posts. But I still believe the Crowdsourcing Bill is a step towards the right direction. 

Simply put, as Senator TG phrased it, “The Crowdsourcing Act is Democracy 2.0.”

Once it becomes law, every lawmaker would have to ask, “Can we defend it at the online Plaza Miranda?”

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