The blindside that boomeranged

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ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

IT was supposed to be a hearing about #CocoyGate, but Cocoy Dayao was nowhere to be found. As Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the committee in charge of the hearing said, Silent No More was ironically silent. There was no one at the hearing who came forward to represent it.

I have a strong feeling that this was part of the defense plan of the handlers of Cocoy Dayao, or of Silent No More PH, assuming that the two are in fact different entities.

It was a deliberate move not only to delay the proceedings and buy them more time to cover their tracks and to weave a lie that would be plausible enough for us to at least give them a fair hearing. It was also to set up the situation to enable them to draw the first blood.

Whoever is directing this knew that RJ Nieto aka Thinking Pinoy and Mocha Uson, as well as other pro-Duterte social media bloggers would be there.


And it was also interesting that Rappler was conveniently absent, the same Rappler which took the lead through Maria Ressa, its head who even went on an international road tour in complaining about fake news. Ressa was even quoted as saying that it was about time for them to retake the Internet. It is interesting that a hearing about fake news would suddenly scare off Rappler enough not to send anyone of its top journalists to represent its interests which it has projected to be under assault by the pro-Duterte social media enablers.

What was also interesting is that the whole Senate minority contingent composed of anti-Duterte Liberal Party senators, with Akbayan’s Risa Hontiveros and Antonio Trillanes 4th, were in full force. And while the jailed Leila de Lima failed to attend, she was nevertheless amply represented at the hearing. Senators Kiko Pangilinan, Bam Aquino and Hontiveros made sure that she would not be forgotten when they imaged her, or rather, the door of her office, as a victim of pro-Duterte social media.

And thus, a hearing triggered by the acts of Silent No More PH, with pro-Duterte social enablers invited to become resource persons, and where the presence of RJ Nieto aka Thinking Pinoy was made necessary –because of his exposé on the anomalous behavior of anonymous blogsites which escape any accountability for their posts, and which have offended even the senators—was turned into a hearing about Nieto’s misconduct, and also Mocha Uson’s.

This, even as Cocoy Dayao was spared, at least for the moment.

And this has provided the enablers of Silent No More PH the opportunity to milk the hearing of narratives that would be detrimental to Nieto and Uson. After all, Dayao’s alleged involvement, and the identity of his handlers and the people behind Silent No More PH, have escaped the Senate’s scrutiny. At best, the names revealed by Senator Villar, and the connections of Cocoy to other political personalities, and even the bombshell Nieto revealed about Mar Roxas are all hearsay.

The void left by Cocoy’s absence was conveniently filled by mainstream media reportage that zeroed in on the negative representations of Nieto and Uson, and focused on the ethical ramifications of their involvement in social media blogging despite their being in government.

Thus, the bloggers who publicly disclosed their identities were the ones who got the first beating from the Senate and from mainstream media. They were taken to task with regard to their public accountability. Mocha was berated for continuing her social blogging despite her position as an assistant secretary. Nieto, who is a mere consultant and therefore not a government employee, was also taken to task.

And the social media spin was swift. Memes and posts flooded social media attacking Nieto and Uson. People I know associated with mainstream media outfits joined the fray, either by subtly posting defenses of their networks, to attacking more directly their obvious targets.

This is alarming.

Mocha is being taken to task for expressing her pro-Duterte stance in her social media blogs because she is now an assistant secretary when in fact part of her job is to promote the President in social media. And then you see members of mainstream media, journalists whose job is to report the news as objectively as they can, now posting in social media, micro-blogging their attacks on public personalities, such as Mocha and Nieto, and even the President, whom they are in fact obliged to treat fairly in their line of work.

So, the issue now is whose conflict of interest and whose unethical conduct are we now being taken to task?

Lost in the spin is the issue of the accountability of those social media bloggers who hide behind the anonymity of Silent No More PH and the others which Nieto, Sass Rogando Sasot and VOVPH have exposed.

Fortunately, Nieto and Uson, and other social media bloggers called to the hearing, were able to respond to the situation in a manner that, when captured on live-streamed video, provided the public with an alternative reading of the events.

And this is what those who thought they could get away with blindsiding and demonizing Nieto and Uson have failed to take into account.

The world which Nieto and Uson, and other social media enablers, thrive is one that defies not only anonymity, but biased spins.

It is easy for Cocoy Dayao, or for the people behind Silent No More PH, to hide behind their anonymity. But they cannot hide forever.

And it was easy for their enablers to set up the hearing so that they could spin the news, both through mainstream and social media. But they could not hide the raw and unedited narrative which media itself provided when they video-streamed the hearing live.

If this is not karma, then you tell me.

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