MANILA, Philippines – The vitriol that rabid pro-Duterte bloggers usually reserve for the President's critics is now directed at Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque for siding with journalists on the issue of fair criticism.
Two of President Rodrigo Duterte's most fanatical online defenders, Thinking Pinoy account owner RJ Nieto and Sass Rogando Sasot, slammed Roque for "chickening out" in his threat to throw hollow blocks at Duterte critics, including journalists.
Nieto, within hours of Roque's remarks explaining the value of critical journalism, called his appointment a "big mistake" and asked him to resign.
"UMALIS KA DIYAN. AT HUWAG KA NANG UMASA SA 2019," said Nieto on Facebook. (Get out of there. And don't be hopeful about 2019.)
Nieto told the senior Malacañang official that he was a coward and "nothing like" the President.
"Nasaan ang bayag mo Spox, nag leave of absence ba?" said Nieto. (Where are your balls, Spox, did they take a leave of absence?)
Nieto said Roque has no right to "order" around pro-Duterte bloggers like himself.
"Sinabi mo pang dapat pagsabihan ang DDS? Hoy, wala kang kakayahang utusan ang mga supporter ng pangulo," wrote the blogger. (You even said DDS should be given a reminder? Hey, you can't order the supporters of the President around.)
Sasot, in a flurry of Facebook posts, called out Roque for defending journalists but not standing up for pro-Duterte bloggers.
"Now, the Spox. Roque is telling us to stop throwing anyting at a Rappler journalist! REALLY? You want us Spox Roque to stand silent as your friends at Rappler do this to us?" said Sasot in a Facebook post on Sunday, November 5.
Sasot's roughly 20 posts about the presidential spokesman showed how nonplussed she was about Roque's remarks.
She blasted Roque for supposedly curtailing the freedom of speech of Duterte supporters while siding with his "legitimate media friends."
However, Roque never advocated the curtailment of freedom of speech of Duterte defenders.
In his interview with Malacañang reporters, he merely said he would explain to Duterte supporters how valuable critical journalism had been to the government and even to Duterte's electoral victory in 2016.
Roque is the first appointee of the President's to attract the ire of some of his rabid supporters.
Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson also reacted to Roque's statements, but in a more restrained fashion. Uson asked her followers what they thought of Roque's remarks, before she meets with the spokesman to discuss media rights.
In a text message to Malacañang reporters, Uson said she would tell Roque that journalists must also respect the opinion of Duterte online supporters.
Uson claimed that, unlike "Yellow trolls," Duterte supporters are not paid to be disruptive and to bash critics on social media. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.