A photo from an anonymous Facebook page called, “The Showbiz Government” went around social networks, particularly the hashtag #epalwatch. #epalwatch is a hashtag used to tag politicians posting their names, or faces alongside government projects as a subtle way of campaigning. The post and image (see above) critiqued the President amidst what it calls politicking during a natural disaster. The package and photo in question, according to Deputy Press Secretary Abigail Valte was made by a well-meaning supporter. In fact, it is an old photo that dated as far back as during the Presidential campaign. To put it another way, it wasn’t taken in the during relief operation for recent flooding victims.
Malicious attacks on the government, specifically, the President by factions that dislike them are not new. (Hey, every regime in the world has them!) In fact, these people believe that the President is divisive. They have spent so much effort, money and time crafting attacks like this when so many people need help in flood stricken areas. These sites twist what is factual to suit their own need. And a lot are neither verified, nor true. They parade to the class of our society that for the most part never agreed with the administration. So they have an audience, and a crowd that immediately nods— hey, anything that validates their worldview is a good thing for them. They’re groups of people who lost out during the last presidential election, or didn’t get a piece of the pie, or never given the President and his administration a chance, at all.
Take groups like the GRP, these Anti-Pinoys, and Showbiz Governments and so many other names they call themselves that hide behind the facade of anonymous eloquent sounding words that Filipinos love to read, and hear. They are eloquent only as far as putting words into a string, but when you strip them– you’ll find those words and those people to be empty, and most often than not, devoid of any value, except of course to rally their crowd. To put it simply, these sites are the Fox News of the Philippine blogosphere.
These people are the attention whores that cry out “look at me, look at me”, and in fact, their content has so much “I” and so many “me” or redirect to an older post to “prove” how right they are. They think they are always right, and people should listen to them, and do what they say. They have this so much hate for their own race. They try to frame their content as sarcasm, and satire even if they don’t know what sarcasm or satire is, if it bit them. These groups too come out of the woodwork in sometimes rabid volume to bully and threaten whenever their point of view is dissed, or sidelined. A friend, God rest his soul once described these people as someone you invite to your home to dine with you, and in the middle of the conversation, craps in the middle of the dinner table. It is these kinds of people that make it shameful to live in a democracy. They give the name “blogger”, a very bad one. It is these kinds of people armed with the greatest gift in human history— the Internet, and they shape it for their own dastardly ends— the spreading of malice, nonfactual, misleading, and intellectually degrading information. They give voice to truthiness. The Internet has a word for these kind of people, and it calls them Trolls.
Not that all this is limited to critics of the President. The same kind of malice, and innuendo persist from Anti-RHbill proponents.
In any society to hold out that everyone agrees with you is a mistake. Like in every democracy, of course everyone is guaranteed the right to voice their opinion, whatever that opinion maybe. An opinion doesn’t have to be an intelligent one. It just has to be an opinion. We’re free to call the President, dictator, idiot, stupid, or lazy, or king, and whatever. It really would depend on the time and day. I mean, a lot of these groups can’t make up their mind on what exactly to call the president. Take the former Chief Justice. How much did he call President Aquino, “a dictator”? You saw his rant before the Senate, and former Chief Justice Corona is an example of these types of people.
Being opposed to the President doesn’t necessarily have to be opposed to the person. You think the President’s budget is out of whack? Point it out with facts, and numbers. Dislike the K+12 program of the Department of Education? What exactly?
Did the DPWH build a road and it broke down? Show us, so people would put the government to task. And what of the PHP352 Billion flood control project that the Department of Public Works and Highways has prepared is awaiting approval from the National Economic and Development Authority. Is this the answer?
There is much to change in government. Just because President Aquino became president and has his “Daan matured” program doesn’t mean it is done. Like magic. In fact, it isn’t. The recent flooding that sank Metro Manila and nearby areas prove how much more we’re behind. Local governments need to step up. Businesses need to step up. Ordinary people need to step up, and the government for all the improvement that has happened in the last 3 years still has a long way to go. So, in short, we need to have leaders— both in government and in the private sector to be less self-serving, and for we the people to do our fair share in building our society.
#epalwatch isn’t a bad idea. It comes in fact from so many people’s desire to have a more intelligent discussion. To have less of the crappy campaigning. To social engineer people to vote for better leaders. We need to social engineer our people to be more considerate of other people. How many times have you hated the idea of politicians putting up their name beside a public works project?
It is a time to build, and to create, and though it is a moment in history that is far from perfect, it is nonetheless such a time for intelligent, and real discussion of issues. We must be cognizant that our nation not descend into a nation that validate malice, and innuendo that gravitate to misleading social media post, and into a media that twist the facts. The beauty of this social media, this Internet, is that is makes it easy for anyone to publish, to say things, to express themselves. It doesn’t stop those entries from being dumb either. While we ought to protect a person’s right to say these things, we must correct their malice, and innuendo, with facts, and the truth, and for each of us to raise our bullshit radar, and to stop feeding the trolls and to subscribe to real intelligent discussion of issues. If anyone deserve to be tagged for #epalwatch, these people do. Then again, people like schadenfreude.
Image credit: The Showbiz Government.