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.