Here are my prepared remarks and presentation for the meeting of the House Committee on Information and Communication Technology, held on May 20, 2015:

Honorable chair and members, good afternoon. Thank you for the invitation to attend and speak at this meeting.

All the measures now being heard in this meeting deserve hearing, study, and approval by the committee, by the House and by the whole Congress:

  • House Resolution 186 of Congressman Arnel Ty;
  • House Resolution 630 of Congressman Terry Ridon;
  • House Resolution 1012 of Congressmen Neri Javier Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate;
  • House Bill 2794 of Congressman Anthony Bravo and Cresente Paez; and
  • House Bill 5331 of Congressman Winnie Castelo.

Individually and collectively, these measures tell the sad or anger-inducing or patience-snapping stories of many students, parents, workers, farmers, professionals, entrepreneurs, businessmen, or congressmen. If there’s one thing aside from terrible traffic that we all suffer from together, it is the dismal state of internet and telephony services in the country. No one is spared from these horrors that should be preventable and easy to solve. 

Flag-draped caskets of the 42 out of the 44 slain Special Action Force members were transported to Manila’s Villamor Air Base on Jan. 29. Photo from the PNP-PIO Facebook Page.

Full credit goes to President BS Aquino for uniting the nation twice this week, but for the wrong reasons: First, in grief over the loss of 44 members of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) in a bloody operation he approved; and second, in fury, over the chief executive’s snubbing of the arrival honors at Villamor Air Base for the fallen elite cops.

Screenshot 2015-01-19 at 9.21.06 PM

Pope Francis’ recent visit to the Philippines, long considered the world’s social media capital, “set several Twitter records”, despite orders of the government to take down cellular and mobile data signals everywhere he went.

By the time he arrives in the Vatican, the Pope will see that Filipinos not only gave him the biggest Papal event in history – but also made him the most popular ever on the Philippine side of Twitter as well as making his tweets coinciding with his visit to the country his most popular ever.

Conventional wisdom today would say that an assembly of bloggers is like cats and dogs put together in one tiny space. We are said to be too feisty and too self-centered to cooperate among ourselves. We value our personal freedoms so much that we cannot be trusted to work together in a common cause.

Such conventional wisdom has been disproven each day and week for the past 5 years and the living reminder of fruitful and important collaboration among bloggers is the continuing project called BlogWatch, which officially turns five today, Nov. 24.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: Sen. Grace Poe, chairperson of the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, and Senator JV Ejercito lead the second hearing on the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill Wednesday, Sept. 18. The committee hopes to reconcile at least 10 different versions of the FOI bill that remains pending at the Senate. (PRIB Photo by Joseph Vidal)
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: Sen. Grace Poe, chairperson of the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, and Senator JV Ejercito lead the second hearing on the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill Wednesday, Sept. 18. The committee hopes to reconcile at least 10 different versions of the FOI bill that remains pending at the Senate. (PRIB Photo by Joseph Vidal)

The Senate public information and mass media committee, chaired by Senator Grace Poe, today held a public hearing on the Freedom of Information bills.

The Senate FOI bills are authored by: Senators Angara, A. CayetanoEjercito, EscuderoGuingona, HonasanLegarda, Osmena, and Trillanes.

I made and delivered the following remarks:

Honorable Senator Grace Poe, other honorable Members of the Senate, and fellow citizens, good morning.

Thank you very much, Madame Senator Poe, for the invitation and for the opportunity to share views on the Freedom of Information bills now pending before the Senate.

Long overdue, but now’s the next perfect time

If we could only put CCTVs in every nook and cranny of each government office and assign a Reality TV camera on each public official, maybe we could lessen corruption and make government literally transparent. But that is not possible, impractical and may be legally questionable. The FOI is the next best thing. It gives citizens the flashlight to focus light and the camera to take snapshots on how government operates, spends public funds, and makes transactions, among others.

Hocus PCOS? Too many unanswered questions about how the Comelec's preferred way of automating elections actually works. (Photo from Pinoy Weekly/Davao Today)
Hocus PCOS? Too many unanswered questions about how the Comelec’s preferred way of automating elections actually works. (Photo from Pinoy Weekly/Davao Today)

Even as the Comelec embarks on a slow canvassing of results of the senatorial and partylist contests and winning local candidates are being proclaimed one after another, many are trying to make sense of the outcome of the May 13, 2013 midterm elections.

Here are my initial post-mortem notes on the polls, 13 in all

Here are my prepared remarks for the eDemokrasya Conference on the Use of Social Media and Technology for Democracy Promotion” on Feb. 21 at Hyatt Hotel and Casino in Manila, held with support from the USAID, the US Embassy’s Public Affairs Section and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems:

At the #juanvote "Miting de Avance". Photo grabbed from
At the #juanvote “Miting de Avance” in 2010. Photo grabbed from

Filipinos want and long for a better democratic system. It is a system where: any citizen could be a candidate, a group of citizens could freely form a party, run for office on the basis of track record and platform, painlessly vote and have the vote counted accurately and quickly, winners swiftly proclaimed and sworn into office and throughout their term office be held accountable for their promises and for how they perform their tasks under the law.

As of today, this dream is a pie in the sky.

Nigh time at Siem Reap, Cambodia. (Photo from Wikipedia/Wikimedia)

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA – Bloggers from across Asia, including a number of Filipino colleagues, have started to arrive in droves here in this beautiful part of Cambodia for the BlogFest.Asia 2012 for several days of fellowship, group study, discussion and fun too.

The program covers diverse topics from the basic to advanced, and also aims to discuss issues and concerns that affect bloggers and technologists in the continent. Topics include: mobile blogging, photo blogging, digital comics, Wikimedia Commons, Internet Security, online advocacy, long form writing, the Philippines’ cybercrime law and Southeast Asia media situation. 

The technical working group formed by the Department of Trade and Industry has released a draft final report on the application of DTI rules on the requirement of sales permit for all online sales promotions.

In the interest of transparency and to allow as many bloggers to check and react to the draft final report, I am sharing the document in full:

ICRC handed out awards for best humanitarian reports by Filipino journalists.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Philippines and its partners including the Peace and Conflict Journalism Network announced the winners of the first Red Cross Award for Humanitarian Reporting today, May 7, a day before Red Cross Day, at the Richmonde Hotel in Pasig City.

Here is the list of winners:

Social media has a role in reporting, solving social confllicts. Visual from

Friends from PECOJON invited me to speak at the forum and awarding of winners in the Red Cross Award for Humanitarian Reporting. The forum and contest revolved around humanitarian reporting, about journalism in the midst of conflict.

I was asked to speak on social media, and below are the thoughts that I chose to share, out of many ideas that popped in my head:

Bullet Points on Social Media and Social Conflict
by Tonyo Cruz

Here are various definitions of social media, culled from various sources:

Social media is a type of online media that expedites conversation as opposed to traditional media, which delivers content but doesn’t allow readers/viewers/listeners to participate in the creation or development of the content.”

This blogger speaks at the Visayas Blogging Summit in 2010. Photo by/from

(Post updated. Changes in brackets. Thanks.) I have long wanted to do something: To help form a national bloggers association in the Philippines. The premises are simple: We are a growing community, with more younger Filipinos trying to start their own blogs. We have worked together in many instances. We have organized events. Some of us have made blogging a career or a profession. We have been sought in interviews. Some have been considered experts in their own fields of interests. Blogs have become media too. Government and business have gone blogging and gone digital. Just imagine what we could do together if we have an organization that would take all these forward.

A number of Filipino netizens went ballistic today after reading news about the National Bureau of Investigation’s proposal to have all laptops and other internet devices registered as part of government’s efforts to purportedly curb cybercrime.

The laptop registry plan, first reported by GMA News and which follows a similar proposal covering mobile phone SIM cards, has attracted the choicest expletives from Twitter users as we could see in these curated tweets:

Photo from

While Filipino netizens are pressing government, Congress included, for action so we could finally have #betterinternet, some Members of Congress want to do something else: Launch a crackdown on vaguely-defined “cybercrimes”.

Lawmakers have not given up on their dangerous project and on Feb. 2, the House ICT Committee holds a meeting to tackle seven “cybercrime” prevention bills that are pending in the current Congress.