Tuesday ∗ 09 Jan 2018

State of blogging, microblogging, media #crisis

At the tail-end of 2017, Bebang Siy invited me to judge some 18 blog entries that talk about fake news for the Saranggola Blog Awards. While many of the entries were taking from the same sources and tended to be redundant, the more interesting ones were those that tried to bring into their writing the more personal effect of being bombarded with lies and falsity and exaggeration that take the form of the news. The two other judges, even when we didn’t sit down to deliberate, actually had chosen the same winners I did.

It was certainly an experience that gave me hope: both for blogging and for writing. Because it reminded me of a time when blogging wasn’t about keeping a Facebook Page and microblogging, that is, writing statuses that detail your activities of the day, i.e., Asec Mocha, and most other Duterte Diehard Supporter pages. Neither was it about keeping a blog site that’s nothing more than reactionary, living off what’s happening on social media, and leeching off what’s already trending, i.e., Jover Laurio’s Pinoy Ako Blog.   Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 05 Jan 2018

Putting out fires

If there’s anything this government, this President, is good at, it’s putting out fires. And it’s not by actually ensuring that we get to the bottom of the cause(s) of these fires, or even count the victims properly (hello, HTI), and certainly it is never about calling out those who are so obviously responsible for these fires, whether oligarchs or factory owners or the leadership of the Philippine Export Processing Zone (PEZA), and certainly not the family that owns NCCC… Continue reading »

Saturday ∗ 16 Dec 2017

A Duterte debut: thoughtlessness and excess

There is little reason to think that there is — has to be — anything wrong with a Presidential granddaughter doing a photoshoot for her debut in Malacañang. After all, it is the Presidential home, even as President Duterte has made a big deal about not living there. After all, granddaughter Isabelle could just as well live there, and maybe then a photoshoot in her “home” wouldn’t be such a big deal? But too many things were wrong about that photoshoot… Continue reading »

Wednesday ∗ 13 Dec 2017

Why say #NoToMartialLaw in Mindanao

It is beyond me how Congress can turn a blind eye to the human rights violations that have happened, and which continue happening, in Mindanao, even as Martial Law has been declared over the region the past eight months. As with Duterte’s Drug War, there is very little rationale here, and even less reason to continue it for all of 2018. In fact, all we’ve got is a flattened Marawi, a rehabilitation process that will cradle corruption, and communities militarized, thousands displaced, and thousands of dead bodies.… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 24 Nov 2017

Pinay call-out culture: the good, bad, ugly

Without a doubt, there is power to be had in having social media, through which we can articulate our grievances, question our leaders, call out oppressors, demand accountability. Here is a medium that cradles our voice, and depending on what it is we’re talking about, we find allies in other voices, named and anonymous, supporting what we say, adding onto our narratives. It’s a sense of community, sure. It’s a sense of belonging, absolutely. It is power, undeniably. This is at the heart of the Twitter thread of Adrienne… Continue reading »

Wednesday ∗ 08 Nov 2017

This Mocha catastrophe #StandWithMedia

Just as the last piece on Harry Roque being victimized by the arrogance and self-proclaimed infallibility of the President’s unofficial communications team on social media, Asec Mocha Uson published a video purportedly apologizing to mainstream media. But of course the notion of an “apology” could only really be smoke and mirrors for what was nothing more than multiple statements that reflect the Asec’s misplaced notions about, and thoughtless skewed opinions on, the function of media, the fact of freedom of the press, and her responsibility as government official for social media.… Continue reading »

When the #DDS can do no wrong: victimizing #HarryRoque

One of the more interesting things to come out of this short period of having Harry Roque as Presidential Spokesperson: it has revealed that the frontline informal communications team of the President cannot be told that they are doing something wrong. They will not be reprimanded. Their faults will not be pointed out. And anyone who even so much as dares call them out will be considered an enemy. These Duterte social media leaders will turn their followers against you, allowing people to call you names… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 06 Nov 2017

A hooray for Harry, a test for Duterte

A week or so since it was announced that Rep. Harry Roque is going to be the new Presidential Spokesperson and I can’t help but cheer him on. It was of course a rocky start. There was the contradiction that is his statements (and mere existence) as human rights advocate and his willingness to speak for a President Duterte who has mocked, dismissed, and discredited human rights. There’s that hollowblock statement in an interview for Communications Asec Mocha Uson’s FB page (which is not a blog!): “Binibigyan ko… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 31 Oct 2017

A Battle Against Exhaustion

In the 16 months that we’ve had Rodrigo Duterte as President, what has become apparent is not only that he is ill-equipped for the position, but that we, the people, are unprepared for the kind of resistance and protest that a President like this one requires. It’s not just the war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives, whether in official or unofficial numbers – the world knows enough about that. What might be missed by many is what… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 13 Oct 2017

Crazed tirade against EU: #DutertesMen doing him in

When the Progressive Alliance and the Party of European Socialists made it to the news on October 10, Duterte and his communications team fell silent. There were no official responses to it, no declaration that the media reports about it were biased or untrue, and no Duterte propagandists raising their fists. This is why the President’s almost crazed, invective-laced, tirade that had him attacking the European Union was a surprise. Even more surprising is how today, his own men in Malacañang tried to pin the blame for… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 06 Oct 2017

Name the enemy: #FakeNews

Many things to discuss about the Senate Inquiry on fake news, including how it had the worst “resource persons,” which also ultimately revealed how unprepared our Senators were (save for Nancy Binay and Bam Aquino) for what it is that should be, needs to be, discussed at this point in time. For one thing, as I said here, the goal should first be to define our terms because, as was apparent during the inquiry, and even more so in the aftermath, we are not on the… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 03 Oct 2017

Sotto VS #SilentNoMore, fake news VS opinion, anonymity and double standard

It’s been fascinating watching things unfold: the “outing” of Cocoy Dayao (in quotes, because was he even hiding at all?), the expected united front of Duterte’s lead supporters on social media, the old(er) hands in the blogging and online community standing with Cocoy, the Senate doing an inquiry on fake news, Duterte’s supporters attacking anonymity, and the critical (anonymous) websites pushing back, insisting that it is within their rights to be speaking the way they do, especially at a time when Duterte supporters do exactly… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 28 Sep 2017

Ressa, Amnesty International, Duterte, words

I am the last person to even defend (or care for that matter) about Maria Ressa and Rappler. I still don’t think that is a credible website, I still question the kind of work that it does, and I still never read it, and rarely link to it (unless they’re the only ones who carry a story). But at a time of d/misinformation and troll discourse, especially given a consistently discredited media, it’s important to see a misstep for what it is, especially from government… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 26 Sep 2017

Two Mochas too many

Here’s the thing with having someone like Mocha Uson as Asec of the Presidential Communications Operations Office: she has no business being there. I ignored her for much of the time she was spewing hate and vitriol during the campaign of 2016, but the moment she became a government official, there became no reason to ignore her, because public funds pay for her salary, for her trips, for whatever it is she’s doing on social media which is necessarily on behalf of and… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 19 Sep 2017

Unity, protest, cultural work #Sept21 #Luneta

It was in early August when I was asked to be convenor of the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT), a multi-sectoral gathering of various groups and individuals who are taking a stand against the killings, the state of tyranny, and the return of dictatorship. Admittedly, I was hesitant about saying yes. I was not part of any organization, and was being invited primarily as independent writer. At this point I had already resigned my column with The Manila Times, which I realized afterwards was a… Continue reading »

Sunday ∗ 17 Sep 2017

Duterte spins the #Sept21 protest #Luneta

President Duterte is trying very hard to spin the September 21 protest in Luneta, by trying to feed whatever divisions already exist, if not by sowing fear in a gathering that government expects will be massive. One can only take this well. After all, it reveals an acknowledgment of the very valid demand to #StopTheKillings and to say no to tyranny and the return of dictatorship. At the very least, it’s an acknowledgment of how government is being affected by the growing public outcry against the killings. It… Continue reading »

Wednesday ∗ 13 Sep 2017

How we lost our rights in 15 months #Duterte

I am one of many who gave the Duterte administration a chance. Despite not voting for him, and despite having been very critical of the killings attributed to him in Davao, I thought he deserved about the amount of time I gave PNoy to get used to the position. A year, maybe? But six months into his term, there were already 6,000 killings attributed to Duterte’s war on drugs, and instead of stopping, he was on a roll, consistently egging the police on, pushing… Continue reading »

Sunday ∗ 10 Sep 2017

Sabotage, malignant elements, damage control

It reeks of desperation, the President now asserting that there is someone out to get his government and / or its war on drugs, which to him is proven by the corpses turning up with heads wrapped in tape. “The police would not wrap (victims). That is not the job of the police to…you wrap, that’s foolishness. So there are saboteurs. <…> That’s why I have said to, the PNP Chief is here, to closely look into this because we are being… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 04 Sep 2017

Ghosts of August and Duterte’s drug war

There is much to be said about a properly envisioned, well-planned communications strategy, one that’s paid for by public funds and seeks to serve the whole country by providing us with relevant critical information about government. And then there is Presidential Communications according to Martin Andanar and Mocha Uson, which is to say no communications, no information dissemination. They serve only the President, and the rest of us can just watch as our taxes are wasted on an office that refuses to… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 24 Aug 2017

Mocha and the end of troll discourse

If there’s anything the past week has revealed it’s the slow death of troll discourse. It’s entirely possible the social media armies aren’t being paid enough, but it’s also possible that we just have ceased to be afraid of being bullied online. The latter is my more optimistic perspective, because it’s been a year after all, and now more than ever, this government’s strategies of silencing and skewing discourse have been exposed to be nothing more than bad communications and terrible damage control. The… Continue reading »

Saturday ∗ 19 Aug 2017

This is on you, President Duterte

It was a little over a year ago, in July 2016, when President Duterte first talked about pardoning policemen in the name of the drug war. He had been turning defensive because of constant criticism about the human rights violations of his war on drugs and its contingent, growing body count. In a speech in front of San Beda batches 1971 and 1972, Duterte spoke of how he is the President and therefore is not required to respect due process. And instead of addressing questions about human rights… Continue reading »

Wednesday ∗ 16 Aug 2017

Common sense dictates: Confirm Judy Now!

Here’s the thing with DSWD Sec. Judy Taguiwalo’s pending confirmation at the Commission on Appointments: it makes no sense anymore to deny her this position, given that she has already been working the post for a year, has served in it effectively, with nary a controversy, no questions about her integrity, and having transformed our sense of what the Department of Social Work and Development is actually about. It is relief goods and funds on-the-ready, in anticipation of that next storm. It’s the prompt release of… Continue reading »

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