ICT and the Continuing Struggle forSocial Reform
By Rep. Teddy A. Casino (Bayan Muna)Keynote Speech for Quo Vadis Pilipinas February 11, 2011SMX Convention Center, Pasay City
Good morning everyone.As we sit here this morning, the people ofEgypt are entering their 18
day of protestagainst the 30-year dictatorship of EgyptianPresident Hosni Mubarak. It is a protest likeno other, the biggest and longest pro-democracy mass action in Egypt in ﬁvedecades. Reports say as much as a quarterof a million Egyptians from all walks of life joined the protests the other day. From allindications, it appears Mubarak's days arenumbered.A few weeks before that, in Tunisia, the 23-year dictatorship of President Zine El Abidine Ben Alicrumbled after 28 days of widespread protests over high unemployment, high food prices,corruption, the violations of free speech and the generally poor living conditions of the people.I thought it proper to mention these recent experiences in Egypt and Tunisia because thesemassive upheavals, both movements for democratic governance and social reform, have beencalled “internet revolutions”, “Twitter revolutions” or “Wikileaks revolutions,” meaning socialmovements in which the internet and mobile telecommunications, particularly social media andSMS, are said to have played a key, if not leading role.It indeed tickles the mind of techies, geeks, reporters followingthe info-tech beat, as well as twitter and facebook fanatics andplayers in the ICT industry, to think that social media couldhave such a huge impact on events in the real world. Butactivists in Egypt and Tunisia will be the ﬁrst to deny that theirswas a twitter or facebook or youtube revolution. It takes blood,sweat and tears, not a few clicks of the mouse, for a revolutionto succeed.Such simpliﬁcations of the role of mobile communicationstechnology remind me of our own EDSA 2, which celebratedits 10
anniversary last January 20. Did anyone remember thatone? I think no one did, not even former Pres. Gloria Arroyo.Anyway, EDSA 2 was known as the Text Revolution becauseof how mobile phones and SMS played a crucial role inmobilizing people and keeping them informed of the political developments. I remember a foreignTV news crew asking me to demonstrate texting simultaneously using two phones, one on eachhand – one for Globe and the other for Smart. Wala pa kasing group text noon.