Government Tech, Philippines, Social Media

An Open Letter to Senator Nancy Binay

Dear Senator Nancy Binay,

Almost exactly last year, I’ve written an open letter to Senator Tito Sotto regarding his unfair response to his plagiarism of an American citizen blogger by declaring that suing a political figure by a foreign blogger for plagiarism as “cyberbullying.” Now I find it rather ironic that another senator, namely you, would be doing the same thing a year later by writing this bill proposing to regulate social media to ward off these so-called “online scandals” as the first of the fifteen bills you filed? And for what? Because you have been blatantly criticized and attacked by the common people through social media during your senatorial campaign, which in your terms, “cyberbullied”?

I don’t know what kind of lashes you personally received from social media, but if there is a difference between constructive criticism and just plain hate, however, may I remind you that thanks to your political dynasty in the making-type of family that you are now a public figure? Public figures are now very open for private citizens to praise you or bash you as much as they please to exercise their freedom of free speech. Like it or not, it’s simply a normal part of being a public figure.

I don’t care much about Philippine politics simply because they don’t affect me (I’m a Filipino-American living in the U.S. for most of my life), however, to see such useless atrocities committed by public figures against the betterment of the common people just to save your face is very upsetting. What time period are you actually living in? The internet is not a proprietary medium and your bill is acting as if the Philippine Government owns the internet. The internet belongs to everyone around the world, Ma’am, and simply regulating social media just to stop all the “cyberbullying” of public figures (and no, I don’t believe that women are the only ones who are being victimized online as you specifically state) is not going to stop the people from speaking out their feelings about public figures. You included.

Also, please define the term “online scandal.” Before I go further in to chewing your head off, I would like to know what is your definition of “online scandal”? Where you comparing them to the tabloids that you see in the traditional media such as newspapers, magazines and even those news and talk shows on the TV? We have to admit that there are a lot of people around who simply just talk too much without any backup sources to prove their claims of being true. It’s also common knowledge that these said perpetrators only do these for popularity and attention from the public. Also, who is to say that you’re simply proposing this bill to regulate social media just to make a name for yourself? It can go either way. It may be the basher’s fault and it may also be your fault. Either way, I still think you have way better bills to propose and regulating social media should be the least of your concern.

A lot of the people who commented on the original Yahoo! article I linked in the early part of this open letter demanding the government (starting with you obviously) to abolish your pork barrel policies. Your other bills mentioned in the article which included the welfare of the children, equal treatment of genders at workplaces, and others are a whole lot more priority than your social media regulation bill. Why not focus more on the bills that would give a higher impact on the needy and those who live in poverty, healthcare, and such, rather than focusing on the more “material” issues such as the people’s usage of the social media? If you want to be taken seriously by the people as a senator, not because you’re the vice president’s daughter who just wants to be part of the party, then please do your job properly by prioritizing the needs of the people first over than yourself. You ran for senate because you want to make the Philippines a better place and not so you can boost up your family reputation and for your own personal popularity. If the latter is the case, then you are no better than any other corrupt politician in the Philippines.

As I reminded Tito Sen from my open letter almost a year ago. Just because you are now in a seat of power, it doesn’t mean that you have the right to regulate things that are considered open to all. You don’t own the internet and you don’t own social media. You also do not control the people who have the right to praise you, criticize you, even bash you for who knows what reasons. If the Filipino people are prohibited in to exercising their freedom of speech per the Philippine constitution, then others who don’t live in the Philippines would be happy and obliged to continue on with this freedom of speech.

Oh, and let me remind you also in case you have no clue about this. Being a former intern/secretary or whatever low-leveled position you may be that’s not involved in the core of politics, you should be aware of the Philippine Constitution and what it exactly says, right? In particular, Article 3, Section 4?

Hindi dapat magpatibay ng batas na nagbabawas sa kalayaan sa pananalita, pagpapahayag, o ng pamamahayagan, o sa karapatan ng mga taong-bayan na mapayabang magkatipon at magpetisyon sa pamahalaan upang ilahad ang kanilang mga karaingan. (No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.)

The Philippine Constitution of 1987, Article 3, Section 4

If you dare get this bill passed and the rest of the government approves it without even checking the Philippine Constitution, then a lot of people will surely be very be upset and not to mention angry, and you do not want to get the common people angry. Remember EDSA? Remember both the eras of People Power? If the common people can oust a President, it wouldn’t be a problem for them to oust a clueless senator. Don’t be one of them, Ma’am.

I am not here to bash you or “cyberbully” you. I’m simply writing this open letter as a warning of the effects of this social media regulation bill you’ve filed. You’ve already been advised. God Bless you.