[OPINION] (Some) evil was defeated

2018 ends in a matter of days. Let's amuse ourselves now by looking back on how we defeated evil not once, not twice, but at least thrice this year.

I'm referring of course to the triple defeats we dealt the evil triad of Sass Sasot, RJ Nieto, and Mocha Uson. They tried their worst this year with their unremitting fakeries, but they all failed magnificently. (READ: State-sponsored hate: The rise of the pro-Duterte bloggers)

RJ Nieto's puny attempt to mislead senators in the series of hearings on fake news turned out to be a total failure and a waste of time for the Senate. Nothing came out of his charge against Cocoy Dayao, who he falsely accused of being behind websites and pages critical of the administration.

Those hearings ended with concerned netizens, bloggers, and journalists correctly pointing at the administration and supporters like Nieto as the source of misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech online. Officials of the PCOO were exposed for their incompetence in mismanaging official (read: taxpayer-funded) Facebook Pages and their promotion of abusive, hurtful, and hyperpartisan speech in social media channels that should be open to all Filipinos, regardless of belief. Ellen Tordesillas of the independent monitor of fake news VERA Files told the Senate that it is Duterte who is known to peddle misinformation and disinformation every single day.

By the way, Nieto promised to release to the public his consultancy contract when he served as Strategic Communications head at the Department of Foreign Affairs. He has not fulfilled his promise. Looks like he has something to hide, or he's just like his lord and savior Digong because he can't deliver his promise.

Sasot meanwhile ends the year still without an interview with the BBC.

Her influence is waning. Like Nieto, Sasot is a mistake away from being eaten alive by the homophobic and transphobic DDS trolls and influencers.

I have no harsh words for Sasot. I worry for her when the tide finally turns. Traditional politicians like Duterte aren't exactly paragons of respect for LGBTs, especially transgenders.

Finally, we should not forget that 2018 is the year when we ousted Mocha Uson as PCOO assistant secretary. They said we couldn't do it, but yes we did.

From Day 1, Assistant Secretary Uson showed how not to be a public servant by her hyperpartisanship and her abject failure to realize that public office is a public trust. Public officials ought to serve all, regardless of beliefs.

Perhaps the heavens (or Thomasians) also gave us an omen early this year, when the UST community rose in outrage over an alumni award given to Uson. The assistant secretary, of course, was forced to return the award as nobody believed she deserved it. Even Mayon Volcano protested.

Let me add here that while Uson was forced to return the award she didn't deserve, Uson's targets of attacks were awarded here and abroad for their truthful and courageous reportage. Maria Ressa is Time magazine's "Person of the Year." Inday Espina Varona won the RSF Prize for Independence. Luis Liwanag won in the World Press Photo contest. The list of winners is long. The "presstitutes" were vindicated.

It took a master teacher-turned-legislator to compel Uson to finally resign. Let's thank and salute ACT Teachers Representative France Castro for doing her job by insisting and demanding that Uson appear before the House when the legislators tackled the PCOO budget.

Scared of accountability, Uson chose not to appear. She was like a cornered rat. She cannot bear the "indignity" of being asked questions about her performance as a public official. She cannot competently, honestly, and bravely answer questions on how she used the public office and public funds entrusted to her.

In the end, Uson was forced to resign in humiliation in October – and it was certainly one of the happiest moments this year. It was a victory over arrogance, ignorance, disinformation, incompetence, corruption, and hyperpartisanship. Her dismissal from PCOO effectively ended her pathetic senatorial ambitions. (READ: Mocha Uson after resignation: 'Suntukan tayo, bakbakan tayo')

We turned back this unholy triad of fake news peddlers in 2018. They are less effective now. Fewer people follow them. They have lost their posts in government. In the case of Uson, she faces graft and corruption charges which we hope the Ombudsman would hear and investigate immediately.

DDS Facebook Pages which are funded and operated like secretive drug and criminal syndicates have since seized the initiative. They fill the void left by Nieto, Sasot, and Uson.

It is only a matter of time before we identify the administrators, authors, and financiers of these Facebook Pages. If they're not doing anything unlawful or illegal, they should not be afraid of accountability. We intend to use all lawful means to extract these rats and their identities, and make them accountable for their offenses and crimes against the Filipino people.

If we were able to take out Uson from the PCOO, nothing could stop us from authors of online shenanigans hiding behind anonymity a la druglords.

Yes, fellow Filipinos. Some evil was defeated this 2018. We have to work harder to defeat more of them in 2019. Nothing is impossible if we are brave, committed, and united in the face of tyranny. – Rappler.com

Tonyo Cruz is a newspaper columnist, blogger and activist. He is a convenor of the media and arts alliance LODI. Follow him on Twitter @tonyocruz and check out his blog tonyocruz.com.