8 most talked about issues on PH social media in 2017

MANILA, Philippines – From Mocha Uson’s government appointment, to messages of support for soldiers and cops who fought with terrorists in Marawi, Filipinos on social media didn't hold back on theirs views on the major political and social issues of 2017. 

Mocha Uson’s appointment as Malacañang communicator

It was a tough 2017 for sex blogger-turned-government official Mocha Uson as she faced criticism over her appointment as an official of the Duterte administration. 

Uson, a staunch supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, was first appointed as Movie and Television Review and Classification Board  (MTRCB) board member in January. 

Some netizens questioned her qualifications for the position while her followers asked that Uson be given a chance and the benefit of the doubt. (READ: Board member Mocha Uson? Netizens weigh in)

Months later, social media was again abuzz when Uson was appointed as assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) in charge of social media.

Some netizens said it was regrettable that an environmentalist like Gina Lopez was denied a government post because the Commission on Appointments rejected her appointment as environment secretary while someone like Uson, accused of sharing fake information through her Facebook blog, earned a post in the government's primary communication arm. (READ: 'Let that sink in': Filipinos react to Mocha Uson appointment)

Fake news

Social media has made spreading lies and propaganda – and therefore manipulating public opinion – so much easier.

Despite being caught several times peddling wrong or misleading information, Uson maintained in a Senate hearing that she herself was a "victim of fake news."

Netizens lambasted Uson's statement. They said that Uson, as a government official, should be more careful with what she posted on her Facebook page. Some expressed disgust that their taxes were being used to pay for Uson's salary. (READ: Mocha Uson: fake news victim or fake news peddler?)

A veteran newspaper columnist even fell victim to "fake news." Netizens criticized Manila Times' Yen Makabenta after he used a quote from a fake news website in his opinion piece. Makabenta claimed that US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that Duterte should be "given space to run his nation." The US embassy, however, denied that Haley made such a statement. (READ: Manila Times columnist falls for fake news)

Philippine News Agency blunders

State-run media Philippine News Agency (PNA) drew criticism for a string of mistakes in its articles.

PNA used the Dole pineapple logo for a Department of Labor and Employment story on 2018 pay rules for holidays.  It also erroneously published on its website several articles with editor's notes and instructions. 

Netizens slammed the state news agency for mistakes that had been "happening too often." (READ: 'Puro Nalang Aberya': Netizens react to Philippine News Agency's latest blunder)

Following the blunders, the Presidential Communications Operations Office assigned a new undersecretary to supervise the PNA.

Sotto's 'sexist' comment on single mother Taguiwalo

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III got flak for his sexist comments during the confirmation hearing of then Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.

After grilling Taguiwalo on her qualifications as social welfare chief, Sotto asked about her personal life.

"Just on the lighter side, Senator Drilon and I were looking at the personal information about you. You have two children – daughters or sons?" Sotto asked Taguiwalo.

Taguiwalo replied she has two daughters. 

Sotto went on to ask Taguiwalo, "But you're single?" He then said that single mothers are "na-ano lang" (just got knocked up). 

Netizens criticized the senator, calling him "basura" (trash) and "misogynist." Sotto then appologized to the public and promised a measure to amend the Solo Parents' Welfare Act, which would give more benefits to solo parents could be passed by December 2017. (READ: After gaffe, Sotto vows to seek more benefits for solo parents)

P1,000 budget for CHR

The House of Representatives sparked public outrage when it voted to allocate a P1,000-budget to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for 2018. 

#CHRBudgetCheaper became one of the trending topics on Twitter as netizens started comparing the measly budget to buying 3 buckets of fried chicken from a fastfood chain, a general admission ticket for a concert, and a pair of sneakers. (READ: P1,000 budget for CHR? Netizens react on House decision with #CHRBudgetCheaper)

Amid the public outrcy, the House restored the CHR budget. This was also included in the P3.8 trillion-budget signed into law on December 19.

Uber suspension

Netizens hit the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for suspending ride-hailing company Uber. 

Uber was suspended for defying the LTFRB's order for all transport network companies (TNCs) to stop accrediting drivers starting July 26, 2017.

Commuters took to social media to express their anger over the LTFRB decision, saying the suspension would be a "hassle" to them, while others asked for a good alternative for the commuting public. 

After paying the P190-million fine, the LTFRB lifted the suspension.

#SalamatSaSerbisyo Marawi soldiers

Netizens remembered the fallen soldiers and cops who fought with terrorists in Marawi by using the hashtag #SalamatSaSerbisyo. 

Messages of support flooded social media on June 12 as the Philippines celebrated its 119th Independence Day. 

To our fallen heroes & brave soldiers fighting in Marawi #SalamatSaSerbisyo — eva (@chakadaldal) June 13, 2017

To ALL the Police/Soldiers who died Protecting MARAWI and the whole Philippines i SALUTE all of you. #SalamatSaSerbisyo — Euclid 미아 장미 Bedruz (@Cr0w1968) June 12, 2017

Kaya ibinibigay ko po ang buo kong pagsaludo sa lahat ng sundalong Pilipino na lumalaban para sa bansa. Maraming salamat. #SalamatSaSerbisyo — August; (@ryeegonzales) June 12, 2017

The President honored the fallen men who were killed in action.

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao following the attack of local terrorists in Marawi City on May 23. Despite the liberation of the war-torn Marawi on October 17, martial law has not yet been lifted in the region, and was even extended until the end of 2018.

#JusticeForKian

Netizens were outraged over the killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, whom the Caloocan police tagged as a drug runner though he was not included in any drug list.

According to authorities, Delos Santos fired a gun at the cops during a drug raid. However, CCTV footage showed that he was dragged to a dark alley. Forensic experts at the Philippine National Police and the Public Attorney's Office had the same finding: Delos Santos was  executed – he was shot in the back of his head while  kneeling down. 

#JusticeForKian trended on social media as netizens expressed their condemnation of human rights abuses in the drug war. (READ: 'Nakakadurog ng puso': #JusticeforKian trends nationwide on Twitter)

Which issue did you care the most about? – Rappler.com 

 

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.

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