Philippines: Elected government officials go tweeting

A growing number of elected officials in the Philippines have signed up on Twitter, joining netizens in this fast-paced social networking platform.

In a noteworthy study, blogger Tine Sabillo compiled Twitter usernames and stats of these elected officials from the President, down to members of the House of Representatives:

Filipino elected officials on Twitter, national level. Compiled by Tine Sabillo.

While elected officials signing up on Twitter is important, that’s just the first step.

They should be able to see Twitter not just as a new fad or new outlet for their political statements. They ought to make it a contact point with constituents and citizens. We would like to see more online interaction and engagement between these officials and the public, maybe even discussions and debates, or solicitations for ideas on how to make or implement laws. At the very least, we expect that these officials who are now on Twitter should realize soon enough that it is not a one-way street and that they ought to check the tweets going their way, and use Twitter as a tool to listen to what online citizens are thinking.

Perhaps the most popular government Twitter account today is @MMDA of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, a brainchild of social media maven-turned-MMDA spokesperson Yves Gonzalez (@doblezeta). Residents and commuters of Metro Manila who are on Twitter know fully well how meaningful and useful @MMDA is, and value the traffic information it spreads and the interaction it encourages. Government agencies, and government officials should take cues and clues from @MMDA.

Also noteworthy are the Twitter accounts of the weather bureau PAGASA (@dost_pagasa) and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (@ndrrmc_opcen).

The sore thumb in social media, as far as government agencies are concerned? There are two: The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), and the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC). They are not on Twitter and many continue to wonder why.