Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler
Senator Grace Poe praised Thinking Pinoy blogger Rey Joseph Nieto for his “excellent research” and “neutrality.”
Thinking Pinoy, a blatantly pro-administration blog, is among the sites accused of propagating fake news or disinformation online.
“You know we may or may not agree with you. But if there’s anything, you do excellent research and that’s the truth. You do excellent research – sometimes against us, sometimes for us,” Poe said on Wednesday, October 4.
The senator told Nieto to “keep the neutrality,” even as he is a known rabid supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte and a critic of the opposition.
“Being fair to you, Mr Nieto, when [another] camp, Open Source, came up with an issue supposedly about me, you corrected it with research, [with] facts. And you were a supporter of President Duterte, I mean you were very transparent but you came up with proper research to say what they were claiming was untrue,” Poe said.
Poe was apparently referring to the report of a website, Opensource Investigations, during the 2016 presidential campaign, which claimed she has a million-dollar mansion in the United States. Poe denied it.
Incidentally, it was also the same blog that mapped the ties of Poe to former ambassador and Marcos crony Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr over the issue of the coconut levy funds during the campaign.
Nieto said he also calls out fake news that spread online, citing the photo of opposition senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan seemingly holding hands.
Poe admitted that she follows Nieto’s page and said other senators should also check his site “so [we] know how people think.”
Freedom of expression
“So I hope you keep the neutrality. Like if you're in a board, you can be an independent director. You can be in government but an independent consultant,” Poe reiterated.
Nieto is currently a social media strategist and consultant at the Department of Foreign Affairs' Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs.
Senators questioned Nieto for his blog posts seemingly propagating hate and disinformation while in civil service. But the latter said as a consultant, he is not considered an employee of government.
He also said he is just exercising his right to freedom of expression.
In a post after the hearing, Nieto thanked Poe for an "excellent job" on Wednesday's hearing.
Poe is the chair of the Senate public information committee leading the probe into the proliferation of fake news. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org