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 the unwarranted display of anger against the EU to (a) mainstream media for misreporting about the mission itself, and (b) the organization itself.

But neither of this is true.

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 »

Sunday ∗ 13 Aug 2017

Andanar’s PNA train wreck

This is all very simple, really. The Philippine News Agency (PNA) has made enough mistakes, has been in the news often enough for being nothing more than a laughable excuse for a newswire service, and ultimately responsibility falls on Communications Secretary Martin Andanar. After all, I have personally heard him talking about how much he idolizes China’s Xin Hua News Agency, and how he would like to emulate its technology, its offices across the world, its professionalism. The fundamental problem with this of… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 11 Aug 2017

#Andanar’s learning curve, social media user accreditation, #PCOO’s downward spiral

It seems the learning curve is steep for Martin Andanar — and everyone else on the Duterte communications team. A year in, and this week’s mistakes and mishaps can only be symptoms of the bigger crisis that is Presidential and government communications. We are also reminded (yet again!) that we are wasting public funds on the salaries of officials who have no idea what they’re doing. After a year, instead of actually evolving in his knowledge of social media, Andanar is still stuck on his simpleton… Continue reading »

Wednesday ∗ 09 Aug 2017

Andy-Tish, smoke-mirrors: who gains from this teleserye?

It escalated quickly and shows no signs of stopping, but the past three days of the Andres and Patricia Bautista show, with a cast of characters of lawyers and banks and bank owners, and don’t forget social / media that can’t quite keep its hands off the oh-so-juicy details slowly being revealed, is just too exciting to let go of. Or ask questions about. After all, there is nothing like the unraveling of the elite, this one with millions in their bank accounts, not to mention wads… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 07 Aug 2017

Emily Alvarez: The case for dissolution of marriage

I have absolutely no reason to like House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez — in fact he has fashioned himself as one of the worst Presidential allies, who spreads about as much false information as government’s social media army, and lays it on even thicker by being an unapologetic misogynist boor. Now, I do not doubt that he has pushed for Congress to work on the dissolution of marriage bill so that he can get out of his own marriage, and continue living with the woman / women he… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 28 Jul 2017

Writing, criticism, hope

In the five years that I’ve been doing this column, and the nine years of writing independently full-time, the most fulfilling parts of it have been about being able to talk to students who wonder about writing. Often the questions revolve around notions of fear, which automatically go to the presumption of courage: that it is brave to write about things that others wouldn’t write about, or to have a contrary opinion from what dominates the discourse. Yet it would… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 25 Jul 2017

Everything I needed to learn about writing, I learned through blogging

And I mean old school blogging via this blog, which first went up in 2008, a gift from my Kuya who had also pushed the mother to start blogging two years earlier. At the time there was an active blogging scene with intellectuals and pundits writing and discussing issues of the day, bouncing off each other, openly debating. Trolling was frowned upon, as was namecalling. Anonymity was put into question. I like to think of that time to have been pre-Joe… Continue reading »

Wednesday ∗ 12 Jul 2017

A whiff of corruption at DoT

President Duterte has made a big deal about how his government is transparent and incorruptible. We have proven the former false. Given a toothless Freedom of Information (FOI), the threats and attacks on media and critics, and the all-around culture and rhetoric of violence and propagation of fear – we all now know that transparency is nothing but a soundbite. The latter? Well, as with the previous government, we are seeing how sometimes, it’s not even corruption that is the… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 11 Jul 2017

The question of Bracken

The premise of Dear And Unhappy is a simple question: what of Josephine Bracken? Rizal’s wife and / or lover, depending on who you believe. Or depending on your internalized racism against the Irish woman our National Hero was enamored with — it is after all why Bracken remains marginalized in narratives about Jose Rizal’s life; it also has arguably spawned multiple texts about Bracken — the less we know about someone the more exciting our stories about her.

Saturday ∗ 08 Jul 2017

Political insidiousness, public complicity

Boses ng Masa is deceptively simple and painfully familiar, which is what’s both good and bad about it: the discussion is worth having, but you can see that ending from a mile away. It’s not that you’ve seen this before, as it is that you have lived it.

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