Filipino voters once again came together on Twitter as they tuned in on the most anticipated telecast of the final presidential TV debate and sent over 1.9 million tweets about #PiliPinasDebates2016 and #Halalan2016.
The political showdown had all five candidates present ? Vice President Jejomar Binay, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Grace Poe, Former DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas II, and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, at the Phinma University of Pangasinan in Dagupan City.
The total of 1.9 million tweets during the live broadcast was the biggest Twitter reaction for a presidential TV debate in the Philippines this year.
The Twitter conversation peaked over 17,000 tweets per minute at around 8:30PM during the heated exchange between Duterte and Roxas when the tough-talking mayor claimed that nobody from Davao has benefited from the government?s PhilHealth program.
Pratiksha Rao, Twitter?s head for media partnerships for Southeast Asia said, ?Filipinos? participation and engagement in the Twitter conversation for the presidential TV debates has increased nearly 50% from the first to the last one. We?re thrilled to see millions of Filipinos all over the country flocking to Twitter to discuss the debates, candidates and important election topics. With two weeks left in the election campaign, we expect the voters, politicians and their supporters to continue interacting with each other on Twitter, and the growing momentum points to a blockbuster #TwitterElection on May 9th.?
The debate used the Town Hall format wherein candidates are only allowed to react on selected issues, instead of the more straightforward format in the previous two debates.
Seven people were picked and were able to ask their question directly to the candidate from topics about foreign policy, health, jobs, overseas Filipino workers (OFW), Mindanao, traffic, and education. After the audience participation, a face-off segment followed, wherein candidates were allowed to grill one another.
Among all the topics covered during the debate, it was Healthcare that registered the most interest on Twitter with 20% of the tweets. This was followed by discussion on Mindanao (18%), Traffic (17%), and the opening topic of the debate – West Philippines Sea (15%).
Comparing share of voice on Twitter from April 1-24, 2016 versus during the third debate, we can see who won on Twitter and how much the conversation changed.
Duterte held the top spot both before (37%) and during the debate (33%), despite a slight decrease in share of voice.
Meanwhile, Santiago had the biggest increase in share of voice with an 11 percent climb, from being last place before the debate (5%) to reaching third place during the debate (16%).
Binay went from second last before the debate (17%) to second best during the debate (27%). Both Poe and Roxas dropped their share of voice before vs. during the debate, with Poe losing the most with a 12% decline to last place during the debate.
There was also a spike in the Twitter conversation during the final section of the debate where each candidate made their closing remarks.
Despite being the least discussed on Twitter during the debate, Poe?s mention of ?Bagong Boyfriend? caught the attention of the live audience at the event and on Twitter, leading to a lot of conversations and tweets with the phrase trending nationally.
For example, voters tweeted their comments about the camera panning to the senator?s son when the phrase was mentioned on live TV.
Finally, below are some of the most shared tweets from the debate, ranging from dry-witted tweets from everyone including celebrities voicing out their opinions to the usual hilarity from observant Twitter users.