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We are now ruled by a mob

It is a first in our election history.

May 26, 2022

Antonio J. Montalvan II

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4-minute read

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It is a first in our election history.

The loser in the recent presidential race is being beaten further and trounced helplessly. The kind of people we have become tells us how the interaction between trolling and social media-bashing will further annihilate us into something graver than tribalism.

Someone said that “bashers themselves are not trolls but are people who go with the mob that trolls create.” That is partly correct. There is a general misconception that a troll is a fake account paid to produce disinformation by exponentially multiplying inflammatory messages in social media through copy and paste across several other fake accounts.

The Whitney Philips definition appears to be more operative now, that trolling is also “to antagonize (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content.” The mob part in the first definition, however, correct.

Troll armies function in an election to demolish political enemies even to the point of twisting the truth, the law, and established norms of good manners and right conduct. The turning point is when even ordinary citizens begin to troll. That is the signal that the mob is already here.

Darwin Mallen Obusan may have been an ordinary netizen in social media. Previously employed in a private company by the name of Aranaz Construction Management Consultancy, Darwin’s Facebook account, the profile of which has been locked, says he studied at the Philippine College of Criminology.

But Darwin does not know the law and the trap he had set for himself when he incited acts of violence with this post on his account:

“It seems too clear to the filipino masses now, that the ‘kakampinks’ are enemies of the state . . . and so, everyone should be wary of people they recognize to have been fanatics of the PINK movement.

Everyone must have the courage to strike these rebels down on the spot, whenever they carry out malicious activities meant to cause societal discord.

Itumba natin ang mga kakampinks, para sa bayan . . . bantayan natin ang kalayaan (Let us take down the kakampinks, for the country . . . let us guard freedom).”

Darwin indicates his presidential candidate won, in which case so this guy has no magnanimity in victory. But that is beside the point. Darwin is advocating the killing of the followers of his candidate’s political rival. Where does he get this murderous reasoning?  Is it from the six years of Rodrigo Duterte’s trivialization of human life and his kill, kill, kill rhetoric? The irrationality corresponds.

Darwin must be sanctioned and brought before the bar of law. It is not known if he has apologized. Alarmed, Aranaz Construction Management Consultancy has issued an official public statement that reads in part:

“Much as we respect every person’s right to freedom of expression, the company wishes to take this opportunity to denounce Mr. Obusan’s recent statements which incite hate and violence. This form of conduct will never be tolerated by the management and, had it not been for the lack of employment relationship, would have merited appropriate penalty if proven after due investigation. We understand the alarm this may have caused and would like to extend our apology to the public.”

Aranaz has set a sane and fine example. The company must be commended.

Can we say the same thing of Cebu Pacific Air?

Pilot Van Rañoa had also trolled by falsely accusing Vice President Leni Robredo of causing flight diversions at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last month. Rañoa claimed that because Robredo requested priority landing for her plane, a Singapore Airlines flight and a Qatar Airlines flight had to be diverted. Fact-checkers researched flight radars for the month of April and found Rañoa’s claim to be false.

Cebu Pacific’s statement is an admonition of Rañoa for disclosing “sensitive company information and operational details, either factual or erroneous.” The airline said it would “address this item internally” and was working with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

That was the last we heard from Cebu Pacific, which has taken down the statement from its Facebook account.

Would you entrust your life as a passenger to a pilot who lies? Consumers have tweaked the airline’s slogan “Every Juan can fly” to “Every Juan can lie.” The Code of Ethics of the Air Line Pilots Association International highlights one of the most important tenets that pilots must fulfill: instilling in passengers trust in the pilot and the airline they represent.

There is no reason for Cebu Pacific to continue employing Rañoa. The war against disinformation trolling must be fought on all fronts. Cebu Pacific can change its slogan if it absolves Rañoa – and then join the mob of trolls.

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.

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