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University-based research unit to combat election disinformation

Boses, Opinyon, Siyasat, at Siyensya para sa Pilipinas (BOSES Pilipinas), a university-based research initiative established by the Ateneo School of Government, said it will not conduct surveys commissioned by politicians for the coming May 2022 elections. 

“We are a non-partisan and academic-based survey unit, and to ensure our independence, we will not accept commissioned surveys from politicians,” said Dr. Imelda B. Deinla, convenor of BOSES Pilipinas, during its online launch Wednesday. 

The initiative, established in partnership with the pro-democracy coalition Participate, aims to “advance empirical, interdisciplinary, and policy-oriented studies of public opinion on democracy, governance, and development.”  

The initiative seeks to combat both disinformation and misinformation, said Ateneo School of Government dean Ronald U. Mendoza. He pointed out that, just like a virus, “these two can spread like contagion, adding to the political polarization and division that now afflict many democracies.” 

Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James B. Jimenez agreed with the severity of this issue, adding, “It’s good that (BOSES Pilipinas) is university-based. It’s good that it’s run by academics because at least there’s that level of security that the conclusions that the projects undertake will be undertaken for the right reasons, and certainly for the enlightenment of the audience.” 

An ongoing survey aims to examine youth’s preferences in the upcoming national elections and what factors make them susceptible to misinformation or disinformation campaigns in social media. 

Upcoming projects by BOSES Pilipinas include various researches on presidential satisfaction in the Philippines, the role of social media in democracy, and also youth leadership. “Our unit would like to contribute further in deepening the understanding of public opinion, not only what they are, but the why’s — how they arrive at these opinions,” said Dr. Deinla. — Brontë H. Lacsamana 

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