So that’s why they’re always anonymous. They either worked for the previous administration or are working for it still.
The revelation over the weekend by pro-Duterte bloggers RJ Nieto (Thinking Pinoy), Sass Rogando Sasot and VOVPH that one former Aquino-era communications expert is the owner and administrator of a brace of critical and anonymous Web sites is not at all surprising. What’s more alarming is the fact that mainstream media, which is by and large critical of President Rodrigo Duterte, hasn’t picked up on this earth-shaking report.
According to the story, published by the Thinking Pinoy Web site last Friday and which has gone viral since then, a certain Cocoy Dayao, said to be a consultant of the Malacañang-based Presidential Communications Operations Office from 2012 to 2016, is listed by online resources as the owner of sites known to be constantly and uniformly critical of the administration. Dayao is also the beneficiary of the Google AdSense revenues that are paid by the giant search-engine pioneer for the privilege of placing ads in sites that have enough traffic.
In his online profiles, Dayao describes himself as the chief technical officer of an outfit called Lab Rats Digital Consulting, a Lipa City, Batangas-based single proprietorship. (The journalist Jay Sonza later identified him by his full name, Edward Mojares Dayao, whom Sonza said was a former Quezon City resident whose mother hails from Lipa City, where Dayao is also reportedly living at present.)
According to the report, Dayao is the owner/administrator/webmaster of about a dozen anonymous sites, including Silent No More, Pinoy Ako Blog, Change Scamming, Backroom Politics, ProPinoy and Madame Claudia, to name just the most prominent of these “yellow” sites. The sites are all anonymous, meaning their owners have never identified themselves publicly, unlike the pro-Duterte blogs which are published by known social media denizens like Mocha Uson, Nieto and Sasot.
The blogs in question and Dayao’s involvement in them would probably never have been made public, had the Senate not gotten into the act. This was after Silent No More attacked a group of seven senators whom the site said refused to co-sign a resolution authored by Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, the head of the opposition Liberal Party, last week which called for the condemnation of the killing of minors in the ongoing campaign against illegal drugs by Duterte.
In a previous column, I already discussed the Pangilinan resolution, which the seven senators said they never saw, the reason why they could not possibly have signed it. But in an apparently well-coordinated propaganda attack, the Silent No More blog immediately criticized the non-signing senators, calling them “dogs” of the administration and detailing their alleged sins individually. To name just one, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Tito Sotto was described as a “rapist” and a “plagiarist” by the anonymous site.
(LP Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino, apparently also a part of the plot, described his own colleagues as “the Seven Deadly Sens.” One of the Dayao-administered sites is dedicated to Aquino and carries his name —a happy coincidence, if you can believe it.)
Naturally, Sotto and his fellow maligned senators took issue with the blog’s broadsides. The Senate majority, in retaliation, passed its own resolution condemning the killings of minors which pointedly excluded the LP senators.
But more than that, Sotto convinced Senator Grace Poe, head of the chamber’s committee on media, to begin an investigation into the proliferation of anti-administration anonymous blog sites like Silent No More. Poe’s investigation starts tomorrow, Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the mainstream media outlets have maintained a stoic silence on the outing of Dayao, whom Thinking Pinoy said is probably just working for the true owners of the Yellow sites. This is the same media, as far as I can recall, that has repeatedly attacked Duterte, his officials and his online supporters for allegedly propagating fake news and for virulently attacking opposition figures and the previous administration.
Apparently, fake news—like Duterte’s well-publicized mistake in identifying ABS-CBN owner Gabby Lopez as the actor Gabby Concepcion—and scurrilous opinion only happen when administration officials like Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and pro-Duterte bloggers and social media personalities open their mouths to speak. When anonymous Aquino- and LP-associated senators and sites do it, it’s not even worth mentioning.
I don’t know why the mainstream press is acting like the unmasking of the Dayao blogs is a non-story. I only know that, if it continues to act this way, the mainstream media runs the risk not only of declaring itself firmly on the side of the LP, but also of eroding what’s left of its credibility.
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On a purely personal note, I’d like to condole with the family and friends of legendary broadcaster Jose “Joe” Taruc Jr., who died last Saturday at the age of 70. Joe Taruc was my boss for three years at dzRH, where I worked as his news director.
Joe is that rarest of broadcasters who worked very hard at his craft while not calling attention to himself. He will be sorely missed by people who still remember broadcasters as journalists of the first water, unlike the shallow “news celebrities” of today.