A friend forwarded to me a post from the Pinoy Ako Blog. In “Ako si PAB, eh ano ngayon (I am PAB, so what)?” Maria Josephina Vergina Laurio admitted that she is behind the blog, that she is PAB. I was awed by this brave act. It takes courage to reveal her true identity, knowing she may get bloodied, but Laurio remains unbowed: “Sugatan man pero patuloy na lalaban (Even if wounded, I will continue to fight).”
I wanted to advise PAB that she made the right decision to come out – going high-profile is her best protection. Public opinion and public pressure (against her detractors) will be her best defense. Public support will also bring her comfort.
But the point is, Laurio is so young and didn’t need the aggravations from the Duterte trolls and paid hacks. She did nothing wrong. She voiced her opinions, which are critical of government policy and Duterte’s actions. That her views ran counter to others’ was no reason to subject her to the harassments, threats and mental torture she had to go through. We are still a free country, aren’t we? Or does it take a different level of intelligence and humility to accept criticisms and differing opinions, something the trolls, being trolls, do not have.
Laurio believes there are many, many PABs out there. To paraphrase what she wrote: You see PAB in every Filipino who’s tired of fake news and lies of propagandists, in every mother who has lost a child and children who have lost parents unjustly, in workers fighting daily traffic, in OFWs coming home in tears, in taxpayers whose hard-earned money goes to taxes wasted in payments to propagandists and meaningless junkets. Above all, she laments that PAB is in everyone looking forward to meaningful change but got a bloody one instead.
What I’d tell Laurio
You are right, continue the fight, these trials and tribulations shall pass. If you give up, you can’t forgive yourself. Not everyone is given the privilege to help others and make a difference.
You are given that rare privilege to wake people up, to jolt their numb sensibilities, to tell the truth. With your powerful pen, you have been given that privilege. Seize the chance and continue on, don’t back off.
Yes, it is difficult and dangerous to fight those in the dark and scared of the light. I went through that period of receiving threats every hour on the hour, of being stalked and letting me know that I am being stalked, to the extent of attempting to drive me off the road into a big construction excavation. The last straw was threatening my own children. But I survived, with faith and prayers and the belief that this too shall pass and that what’s meant to happen, will and what’s not meant to happen, won’t.
I am awed and touched by what you said that there may just be one Jover but there are many PABs out there. We are supposed to be in a civilized, democratic society, but up to now we still have to fight, march on the streets, hide from threats because many have lost their humanity and civility.
Let them be, let’s just continue to do what we can. We shouldn’t be out in the streets anymore but the times demand it. We’ve been such a lupang hinirang (God chosen land), blessed with so many things but a good, upright, caring leader who loves the country above all.
I also agree with Laurio when she responded to accusations of cowardice because she chose to be anonymous at the beginning. Laurio said being named is not the barometer of courage. “Courage is when you are afraid but you still fight. When you know you’re about to hit a big wall but you think about the welfare of many, that’s courage. If I didn’t come forward now, would it change the fact, the truth behind what I say?”
A big problem we now face is that legitimate dissent like that of Laurio’s is being discredited as destabilization. Dissenters are tagged as “dilawan (yellow),” referring to the Liberal Party or former President Benigno Aquino’s camp, or “reds” (communists).
President Duterte has challenged the yellow and the red to unite and save him a separate bullet for each one of them. That threat indeed is meant to stifle dissent and to scare oppositionists into silence. But fortunately, we are (for now at least) still a free country trying to wake up the rest of Filipinos to the specter of one-man rule. We should collectively say: “Never again!”
Senate hearing on fake news
I cringed with shame upon hearing Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson arrogantly defend herself at the Senate hearing October 4 that “I am a blogger, not a journalist.” As if that excuses her from being held accountable for circulating blatantly false and stupid news, without research or fact checking?
Despite repeated allegations of spreading fake news, Uson claimed she is a “victim” of such practice, too.I felt nauseated listening to her and RJ Nieto’s explanations, which only highlight their arrogance, unfairness, and disregard of the truth.
Uson apologized for her disrespectful act of failing to remove her boots and not wearing hijab inside the Grand Islamic Mosque after Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong castigated her. But at the Senate hearing, she had the temerity to accuse mainstream media of reporting wrong news by accusing her of taking “selfie” inside the mosque. True, taking a video and taking a selfie are different, but she blatantly did wrong in being insensitive. Her turning the table on journalists only showed her true colors.
Bravo to Sen. Nancy Binay who asked her to choose between being a blogger and a public servant because she cannot separate her persona now that she is being paid by taxpayers.
Sen. Grace Poe said it well in her closing remarks at the hearing: Misinformation should have no place in today’s democratic society.