#Nagaleaks and Philippine political cyber-wars as game of thrones

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ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

THE fall-out from #NagaLeaks appears to have shaken not only the House of Robredo, or of the whole of Naga City, but may have put a new twist into the already exciting area of cyberspace as a venue for political warfare.

And in this one, I may have appeared to be directly implicated. And, therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to use this space to clear up certain things.

I am not the one behind “We Are Collective”.

That has to be emphasized to disabuse the minds of people who have been going around with the mistaken belief that I am the author of #NagaLeaks.


I would have pretended that I am, if only to bask in the glory of being in the limelight, but that would be unfair to the real authors of the expose who have risked their comfort and convenience, maybe even perhaps their safety, enough to drive them to hide behind the security of anonymity. It takes a lot of courage to undertake such an endeavor.

Some people have already raised the idea that the City Council of Naga considers me as persona non grata. I have received numerous queries from friends. Some people called me up from nowhere to either ask for juicy leaks, or to demand explanations as to why I am trying to destroy the memory of a dead man, thinking that I am the person behind We Are Collective.

A radio station in Naga called me up informing me that I was the number one suspect. Cheryl Cosim of TV5 told me the same thing when I guested in her early morning show.

I categorically deny that I am We Are Collective not only because to say so is to lie, but also to claim that I am is not my way of doing politics.

It is easy to become anonymous in cyberspace. I respect the right of anyone to use cyberspace to launch their own brand of participating in political discourse from the safety of a pseudonym, and I will not readily condemn as trolls the people who would do so. Like I said in a previous column, anonymity is a legitimate strategy taken by those who are more vulnerable, and more likely to be oppressed. I would not be a party to a blanket diminution of its potency, more so if the enemy has all the resources at their disposal to exact retribution.

But anonymity has never been the route I took in my politics. I have always fought in the open from the time I battled powerful people in my everyday dealings in the workplace, to when I filed a case of false representation against a senator running for President, to when I called out the possible fraud that marred the vice-presidential elections.

I fight my battles proudly wearing my name, the name my parents gave me, and the name that I gave my wife and children, for that is the only way I can honor them.

The discourse revealed in #NagaLeaks is a compelling cyber-narrative that can easily mesmerize. All the deep dark secrets that are coming out could easily tempt one to be lost in the excitement of a revelation.

There are so many interesting details that many people in Naga City I have talked to can vouch to be true, but there are also others that may be purely speculative. This is precisely why I challenge the authors of #NagaLeaks not to betray the trust of the thousands who have adopted their narrative to become part of their political education on lies masked by political branding. They have to produce evidence, and fast, before people begin suspecting them of being simply character assassins.

I will continue to give the authors of #NagaLeaks the benefit of the doubt, as I will continue to fight for their right to speak. I can understand their anonymity. But the adage that the one making the allegations has the burden of proof remains a tenet to which I continually adhere.

For me, I will stick to the part of the narrative that involves the public behavior of people, or those that they do privately but would have implications on public policy, or their performance as public servants.

I have always kept my distance from sexual affairs. I have faulted officials for their public conduct, or misconduct. I will leave it to their private conscience and families to deal with their private sins.

#NagaLeaks unraveled in cyberspace, where the rules of the game have become too fluid, yet so powerful to a point that they can influence politics. It is mesmerizing, at the same time frightening, to realize that ordinary citizens, some only operating through anonymous handles, conduct their politics in amazingly effective and potent ways.

This enormous power comes with enormous responsibility, for it can also come with an enormous price. It is like playing the game of thrones where the opposite of winning could be what happened to one named Emilio Aguinaldo.

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16 Comments

  1. jess nazario on

    Maybe as a variant of or complement to #NagaLeaks we can campaign against the yellows thru leakages of their unending travesties with the hashtag: #NegaLeaks.

  2. Here’s a fact. Some greedy human beings WILL KILL in Philippines just to ascend to power. Go to Mindanao pre and post elections.

    Why hushed at the onset? Why suppress a story? Why silence a voice?

    Allow it to be told, and let THE PEOPLE decide. This Nagaleaks is not for the few to adjudicate. What’s so wrong of telling a story?

  3. Why is leni saying nagaleaks is to silence her eh pinagsasalita nga siya about this revelation. Actually, sa dami ng kwento , very detailed, people and dates and circumstances very specific, it would be very difficult to come up with this fake story. The issue is not about the anonymity or jesse is in hell now, but tutoo ba/??? Leni, this is a grave issue, you did not declare your saln correctly, remember Justice Corona?? If true you are a big time drug lord protector, lo and behold, you should be in jail with delima. bow!

  4. Oscar Petillo on

    The disappearance of Emilio Aguinaldo, the death of Jesse Robredo and the death of the American diver who participated in the recovery of the remains of Jesse Robredo are grim reminders that there are influential people who will not think twice about eliminating perceived threats. If these are not enough there are the several thousands of killings every year during the Aquino administration when there was not even a drug war.

  5. alexander demetria on

    Please, nagaleaks expose is NOT A FANTASY. Come to Naga and check, before you say/conclude that it is/was a fantasy. MAGDUMAN KAMO DIGDI SA NAGA CITY, and check. I do not believe that nagaleaks came out to silence VP Leni. Rebut the claims. Kindly check the facts and nagaleaks are facts. Those people saying that nagaleaks is a fantasy are the ones leaving in fantasy .MABALOS TABI. Reason for facebook PH to destroy the WAC page in FB. People in Naga are wondering why the brouhaha when POGI passed away. Wow…good governance, whew…to RMF who were the co nominees of POGI boy for that award you erroneously bestowed to him.Many thanks.

    • Hi Alexander,

      Sorry to disappoint you, I was just in Naga (and Tinambac, a town 37 kilometers from Naga) and talked with several locals — and my findings is, as i said — Naga Leaks is a make believe story! You may be an exception in your opinion.

      Add to this the strong official denial by the RMF of irregularities in Jesse’s selection — so who is believable?

      sincerely

    • kahit na anonymous yung authors ng “nagaleaks,” i still find it interesting and noteworthy of reading. simpleng tanong ko nga lang po kay leni robredo eh, kung totoong drug lord yung bayaw niya. yes or no lang po ang sagot. as simple as that. kaya lang po, ang depensa na ginagawa niya sa lumabas na istorya na ito eh, misinformation daw sa social media. sa ginawa niyang ito, parang outrightly sinasabi niya na hindi totoo ang “nagaleaks” na ito. in fact, pinatanggal na nga sa fb yung ‘we are collective’. whoever is behind this pagpapatatanggal sa fb ng “nagaleaks” na ito ay ayaw na nilang mag-prosper pa ito. marahil yung mga taga-naga o yung privy sa mga secrets ng mga robredo nangingiti na lang sa depensa ni leni r. madali namang patunayan yung nakalagay sa narrative eh. unang-una, meron naman sigurong impormasyon o taong makakapagpatunay na talagang drug peddler, drug lord, o drug protector yung bayaw niya. pangalawa, yung sa condo bldg daw na supposed to be ay pag-aari daw ng mga robredo at hindi lang condo units. madali ring mapatunayan ito kung merong tao o merong dokumento na pedeng makapagpatunay na sila nga ang may-ari ng condo bldg, or yung condo units na tinitirahan nila jessie robredo na sinasabi nilang ni-re-rentahan lang nila sa nanay at kapatid ni jessie robredo. sana lumantad ang katotohanan, dahil kadalasan ang publiko nadadaya lamang ng isang image na pino-project ng isang politiko na gawa-gawa lamang ng kanyang PR team. baka nagpapa-pogi lang pala sa tao, but in reality hindi pala talaga ito ang pagkatao niya. in the end, tayo pa ring mga publiko ang nadadaya o napaglalaruan ng imaheng ito.

    • Alex Demetria on

      Hi Gabby..why Tinambac?..go to Naga City……make an exhaustive investigation…my query to RMF was..who were the co nominees of POGI that year. the award was erroneaously awarded to him……….check out the names mentioned on nagaleaks…….

  6. Richard Regalado on

    Mahusay ang pagkakasulat ni Propesor Contreras. Mahusay din ang sagot ni Gabby. Binasa kong paulit-ulit. Iba talaga pag galing sa mga intelektwal. Hindi ka lang matututo, mapipilitan ka pang mag-isip.

    Ginoong Gabby, hindi kaya kaya nila piniling maging anonymous ay dahil sa mga panganib na hindi natin nakikita? Noong panahon ng mga kastila, mas madaling makita ang panganib – nakikita, naamoy, nadidinig, atbp. Sa panahon ngayon, hindi madaling malaman kung saan manggagaling at mawalang galang na po – ang “unduly and unreasonably cause harm, danger and death”, dahil na din sa teknolohiya at pag-unlad ng panahon.

    Hindi din natin alam kung ang mga kumakatawan ng WAC ay dating naapi (oppressed) o magpahanggang ngayon ay inaapi ng mga isinasangkot sa kanilang mga inilalathala. Marami akong, tayong hindi alam sa kanilang sitwasyon.

    “There are known knowns. These are the things that we know.
    There are also known unknowns. We know that there are things we don’t know.
    There are also unknown unknowns. The ones we don’t know, we don’t know.” (Donald Rumsfeld)

    Magandang araw sa lahat.

    • Hi Richard,

      Salamat sa iyong pagkilala at magandang pagtingin sa aking sagot kay Ton-Ton. Ang aking punto ay — wala tayo sa isang oppressive state or situation, in fact kung naniniwala ka sa official pronouncements ng Pdu30 government, ang krimen ay bumaba ng 35% — so walang disorder, giyera,oppression at hindi kailangan magtago sa Anonymity – unless ang sinasabi ay hindi katotohanan – katulad ng nasa Naga Leaks.

      Isipin mon a lang ang object of the expose is dead for several years. In fact he is defenseless. So the danger being mentioned in Ton-Tons articles is imagined and not real and the elements to be anonymous is absent. So why hide then – just present the facts straight. Di ba?

      Sa aking palagay “test case” itong Naga Leaks, isang prelude to see how the public will react. If we let it pass, the next phase may be an attack on the credibility of someone bigger in stature (than Jesse) with the end goal of rewriting Philippine history. Isipin mo rin bakit si VP ay hindi tinitigilan ni Ton-Ton sa kanyang pagbatikos – ano ang dahilan – 2nd in command lang naman siya?

      Pag tinolerate natin ang ganitong pamamaraan ng anonymous reporting at pagsulat, magiging masalimuot at magulo kasi – and as you quoted..

      “There are known knowns. These are the things that we know.
      There are also known unknowns. We know that there are things we don’t know.
      There are also unknown unknowns. The ones we don’t know, we don’t know.” (Donald Rumsfeld)

      Madaming innocentend tao ang masasaktan ng walang katuturan. Hindi natin gustong mangyari ito. We must avoid and abhor such behavior for the sake of the nation.

      Salamat.

  7. Mr. Contreras, I think Nagaleaks has piqued the mindset and curiosity of the Filipino people, and perhaps most especially the subjects in its expose. The fact that it involves the second highest in command official of the Philippines makes it more galvanizing. People will wonder and start to deduce. Unfortunately, you are targeted as a source. Only time can tell where the end of this fairytale expose leads us to. Hopefully someday you’ll be vindicated with all the accusations once the anonymity is shed to light.

    Anonymity, in this internet era where hacking is a real and present danger, is akin to an identity encryption that protects against potential threats. Why did Emilio Aguinaldo disappear? Why do journalist die or disappear?

    The fact of the matter is that there are influential, if not even corrupt, forces in the Philippines. Those who live in the Philippines know that political opponents will do anything and everything to rise into power. That is a FACT.

    Philippines politics is so volatile and in fact even perilous especially in the provinces where lives are even at stake just for the sake of power. The evolution of the internet era provided us all a new avenue of expression. The internet is a unique and different kind of mecca of freedom. For the first time, it provides a medium of expression for people across social economic strata to arm themselves with power to manifest their voice.

    I just don’t get it why people are immediately opposed to giving Nagaleaks a chance, and besides Filipinos can discern for themselves what’s true or not.

  8. tulfotumbong on

    Although there are no outward endorsements of the Nagaleaks this writer by insinuations actually is a perpetuator of the Nagaleaks which as you say is dirty politics.

  9. Hi Ton-Ton

    Allow me to reprint part of your column today …” Like I said in a previous column, anonymity is a legitimate strategy taken by those who are more vulnerable, and more likely to be oppressed. I would not be a party to a blanket diminution of its potency, more so if the enemy has all the resources at their disposal to exact retribution.”

    The conditions you cited above, to quote your words ..”vulnerable” and “oppressed”, does not exist and therefore the argument does not apply in the case of Naga Leaks.

    The examples mentioned from history where Anonymity was resorted to were during very repressive situations and regimes (ex. Spanish revolt) — where there is overwhelming physical advantage of the regime — to unduly and unreasonably cause harm, danger and death – that requires one to be anonymous. It is pretty obvious these elements are not there.

    We are not in conflict or at war with one another. We have the democratic space — to freely express our views, like you and I do.

    I ask myself why you missed out on these basic points and — why after all the feedback, which by the way should have raised a red flag, you’re still giving the perpetrators of Naga Leaks the benefit of a doubt to come clear?

    Anonymity has no place in this case. Naga Leaks is a fantasy, a demolition job by evil minds. It is utterly false. Unwillingly or subliminally, sorry to say, that in spite of your denial, you may have openly endorsed dirty politics and not Anonymity in its pure sense.

    • Demolition job? Then YOU should provide clear proof of your assertions. Anonymity is not automatically an indication of falsehoods. If this was such then you and millions more better quit reading the Bible whose many books were anonymously written yet are taken as a matter of deep faith and belief. This analogy may be a stretch but the point being that truth may be staring us in the face already regardless of who exposed it using their real names or pseudonyms. NagaLeaks is NOT to be swallowed whole as truth in its entirety but it clearly shows us where to look, discern, and connect the dots. If you refuse to do so and just want to sit back and condemn it as outright hogwash then you are missing a lot.

    • If Nagaleaks were untrue, why Luis Ortega corroborated the write-up with his statements when he was interviewed by PTV?