Comelec signs deal with Facebook, DOST

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The social media giant, Facebook, said that it has 47 million Filipinos on its network.

That is close to the 54 million registered to vote in the May 9 elections.

It's not hard to see how the social network can be a handy tool to reach voters and for voters to reach each other.

"Filipinos log on to Facebook daily because they want to know and learn more about the candidates that are running for office in these elections. But they're also debating the issues that are important to them on Facebook with their friends and learning more about those issues. And the candidates also want to reach out to the voters through Facebook," Elizabeth Hernandez, Facebook's head of policy for Asia, said.

The government is quick to learn handling this tool and now it is teaming up with Facebook for the polls.

Facebook will provide a means to crowdsource questions for the presidential and vice presidential debates. Users will be able to feed their questions and comments, which debate moderators will pose to the candidates during the live telecasts.

Also watch: Youth group launches mobile app on 2016 polls

On May 9, a "voter megaphone" will alert users that it's election day. After you finish voting, you have a quick way to tell all your friends that you've cast your ballot. That should encourage them to do the same.

Throughout the poll season, Facebook will keep tabs on political discussions and monitor trends and inform the Comelec what issues resonate with the public.

"We are eagerly looking forward to working with Facebook to ensure that the thoughts and opinions of Filipino voters remain an integral part not only of the debates but also of the elections. And with Facebook's help, we can see greater voter participation and meaningful engagement in the 2016 elections," Comission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista said.

Partnership with Twitter, too

The Comelec is also partnering with Twitter, another social media giant.

Political analyst Dindo Manhit, a consultant in the Facebook partnership, said it could promote intelligent conversations on the elections.

"Mas mataas ang debate or substantive discussion sa Facebook so maaaring it can encourage deeper discussion sa ating eleksyon. So it could be an alternative venue by which people can discuss, people could answer, even our own candidates," Manhit said.

Trolling and cyber bullying are the risks in using social media in political discussions, but Facebook has a way to deal with that.

"When we look at a conversation, we don't measure whether it's positive or negative. We're just looking at the overall volume of conversation and discussions that people are having on Facebook. We have terms and conditions on what anybody can say on Facebook, whether it's yourself or a candidate," Facebook's Politics and Government Outreach Manager Katie Harbath said.

Election duty of public school teachers soon to be non-compulsory?

The Internet is changing the face of Philippine elections and the government trying to keep up and take advantage of the change.

It will again train public school teachers who will supervise the polls on how to operate vote counting machines with the help of Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

"The teachers of course have to be trained in respect of their functions and responsibilities and that's where the DOST comes in. So they will be certifying that the teachers who will be serving as BEI's have the requisite competence, skill and capacity to be able to serve as our Board of Election Inspectors," Bautista said.

Congress has passed a bill making election duty no longer compulsory for public school teachers. It also raises their pay from P4,500 to up to P7,000. The bill awaits President Benigno Aquino III's signature. The Comelec is confident some 300,000 teachers will volunteer for poll duty.