I am writing this in a moment of quiet amidst a storm of trolls. It was Pinoy Ako Blog— PAB— who first messaged me. On my phone was a screenshot. It was my photo with the Pinoy Ako Blog logo. Sassquatch was accusing me of being the blogger of Pinoy Ako Blog. What followed was a storm of friend after friend messaging me about the story.
This is what it is like to live in the Philippines under Duterte and his DDS.
It didn’t matter what I had to say. It didn’t matter whether or not I had long since stopped blogging. It didn’t matter what I had to say was the truth. It didn’t matter if the writing styles were different. It also didn’t matter whether or not Pinoy Ako Blog was actually a flickering candle of light in a universe of darkness. It didn’t matter if they broke the law in the process. What mattered at least to Duterte’s Dementor Squadron was a pound of flesh. PAB embarrassed them and they must find out who PAB was. It didn’t matter if she told the truth. As Atty Jego puts it:
“Funny how the ka-DDS are so hell-bent on “exposing” the person/people behind @PinoyAkoBlog.
As if somehow that undermines its articles.”
Not to belittle the thousands upon thousands dead in Duterte’s drug war, what followed next was digital tokhang. Post after post of character assassination. Phone calls. Texts. Email bombing. Threats. Ridicule. The trolls were obvious in their monotonic comments. There were live ones, obviously. They’re the diehards, and were persuaded by Sassquatch’s post and carried over by the mob. The attacks were coordinated.
There was a bright light in all of this. For every unsolicited phone call— I don’t get that many phone calls in a day— I had twice as many friends who said they were worried for my safety. For every giddy dotard post at having been ‘outed’ as Pinoy Ako Blog, there was a friend who offered a sounding board of ideas, advice or words of encouragement, or gestures of kindness. For every person on social media who ridiculed me, there were two friends who stood up to reply in comment or published their own blog post. I hope everyone does the same for every person the Troll Army meets. I count myself blessed by the outpouring of support. And if I had missed a tweet or post or failed to reply in some way— I will try to get to everyone. Let this be the first of many, “thank you.”
The only way to answer Duterte’s people I learned is this. You give a Vulcan hello. And you stand together with your friends. The lone wolf dies. The pack survives.
Last week, trolls swarmed ABS-CBN News reporter Don Tagala’s Facebook account last week. He had a video of Duterte’s partner Honeylet in New York City. She was with Cayetano, and Mocha Uson. The United Nations was in New York. Tagala asked Honeylet why she was there. The Palace would later say she was there on her own dime.
Randy David wrote on his column, “The wonder of it all is that so pervasive has the culture of fake news become that people who regularly participate in its routines, as consumers or as purveyors, begin to think of the whole thing as a game. If you are a victim, that’s just too bad; you are expected to take all of it in stride. If you are the purveyor, and you are caught, you are supposed not to feel any accountability. For, that’s just the way things are.”
There have been decades of literature long before the rise of the ALTs, and dotards on why facts don’t matter. The New Yorker has a good summery. Elizabeth Kolbert of the New Yorker wrote, “Providing people with accurate information doesn’t seem to help; they simply discount it. Appealing to their emotions may work better, but doing so is obviously antithetical to the goal of promoting sound science. “The challenge that remains,” they write toward the end of their book, “is to figure out how to address the tendencies that lead to false scientific belief.”
On February 2017, historian Manolo Quezon wrote for the Washington Post. He talked about the rally and how Duterte’s honeymoon period may have been over. “Yet despite the organizers’ best efforts — including the use of ambulances to ferry people to the site — the police settled on an estimated attendance of 210,000. (A local tech enthusiast who took a photo of the rally with a drone concluded that the number was closer to 20,000.) Big, to be sure, but not even close to the gigantic turnout that had been predicted. And the nationwide gathering in public plazas to petition for a revolutionary government doesn’t seem to have materialized at all.”
Last week was probably a wakeup call for Duterte’s followers. Practically nobody came even when Mr. Duterte called for a day of protest. At least on their side of the aisle. The police called in numbers only the diehard Dotards would believe. Pinoy Ako Blog wrote, “someone didn’t know how to count:”
It is a very visual survey of public sentiment.
Tito Sotto was fuming mad at the blog/community called Silent No More. #SilentNoMorePH called out seven Senators including Sotto, writing, “to fight the #7DeadlySens” wrote that the senators did not vote for the resolution to stop the killings of minors in the Philippines and to have an investigation.
Pinoy Ako Blog wrote in reply to Senator Sotto’s speech: “Nagalit ka kasi tinawag kang dog? Alam mo ba yung Figures of Speech? Aralin niyo po. Kasi di ba ang aso laging sunod ng sunod sa amo, at taga tahol kung may kumokontra sa amo. Now, tanungin niyo po sarili niyo, ” Aso ba ako? ” Aw! Aw! Aw!”
(I don’t know what Kuda means. I guess it doesn’t mean Cuda cores. I digress.)
Senator Richard Gordon took to Twitter. “It’s a LIE to make it appear that we didnt sign d resolution. If given d opportunity, I WOULD HAVE SIGNED IT. We werent given a fair chance.”
Here’s a screenshot of his tweets:
Veteran blogger Joe America wrote on his Facebook:
“Senator Pimentel evidently wants the Senate to investigate social media news reports condemning the (political) majority seven senators who did not join with the (moral) majority sixteen senators on a resolution asking for a reset of the government’s killing policies and practices.
I am curious as to how Senator Pimentel distinguishes between news and opinion. News is simple. The seven voted the way they did, and that was reported in mainstream news.
Opinion is not so simple.
Social media is not really a news institution. It is a social institution heavy-up on opinions attached to facts. Does the Senator seek to punish those with opinions? If he found the opinions harsh, I’d imagine it is because the opinion-mongers (such as myself) found the Sadistic Seven’s failure to back the resolution beyond harsh. It was uncivil, diabolical, malignant. It was pro-killing.
Sorry, your honorable, that’s my opinion. Your vote was your act. Opinion is all that we who care have, as our act.”
Earlier on Wednesday, 28 September 2017, Rappler reported that “The Office of the Ombudsman had asked the AMLC in August to do a bank inquiry and submit its final report on the alleged Duterte accounts. The Ombudsman now has a copy of bank records from the AMLC which, according to Carandang, “more or less” look like the documents submitted by Trillanes.”
#TindigPilipinas— a diverse group of Filipinos alarmed, indignant and outraged by the path our nation has been led to, a path filled with violence, contempt for law and hate issued a statement on this development from the Ombudsman:
Amidst what appears to be dwindling support, Duterte’s DDS are on the offensive to silence opposition; to slow the tide that it has well worn out its welcome. Whether it is Duterte Dotard Senators, or the ever gauche Duterte Diehard Supporters and their bot toys, there is a clear move to silence dissent. The effect though is giving birth to more Filipinos dissatisfied with their iron-fisted rule. More and more people, to use millennial speak, are “woke now.”
“What we do transcends any politician and political color,” wrote #SilentNoMorePH, but our moral obligation to the country and all Filipinos who deserve better.”
Duterte’s Diehard Supporters believe that in Authoritarian Unity— there’s is the only voice that matters is the road to success. It is a fundamental misconception that we must look on high to be saved. That God or Duterte will make us great. God can only be there to lend strength. In Filipino we have a maxim, ‘Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa. (Translation: God will be merciful to people who work hard.)
Barack Obama talked about America and how she reached success. I think former President Obama’s words are also apt for Filipinos:
“The majority of people who made these advances who made these advances were citizens. Doctors. Nurses. Entrepreneurs. Clergy. Moms. Community leaders. Activists. Union leaders… who mobilized, and organized, and voted, and innovated, and pushed for change. And by the way, they knew at every step of the way that they would not get everything they wanted as fast as they wanted. They knew that progress required struggle, and perseverance, and discipline, and faith. They knew that sometimes, for every two steps forward, you’ll take a step back. But they made things better. And this is something I always had to emphasize to my staff when I was president — better is good. You laugh but sometimes, people forget that. I will take better every time.
So that’s what’s needed today: the engagement of everyone who wants to see a better future for our children. And it can be frustrating.”
I think, more importantly we each are cognizant that with each step forward none of us would get everything we wanted as was as we want it to be. I think Filipnos need to realize better is good. And we shouldn’t forget that. And what we have today? Right now? Is this climate of hate better than what came before it? Democracy is about compromise and debate, but when the government wants to shut down the means to compromise and debate, is that better?
Better is always good. Death in the streets. Businesses closing down. Prices of goods skyrocketing. Politicians unleashing their inner imbeciles. Government officials as purveyor of fake news. When you oppose you are hunted down. Is this better or worst?