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Netizen points out DOT’s possible violations for blocking citizens on social media

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A Twitter user took to social media to post about his experience of being blocked by the official Twitter page of the Department of Tourism and brought up possible laws that were violated by the agency for what they did.

“When you’re blocked from viewing a government account for this, that’s a violation of ARTA and RA6713,” tweeted user @MarcoSardillo, tagging @OmbudsmanPh and @DICTgovph.

Based on his tweet, Sardillo was blocked after he tweeted and retweeted about the DOT’s “fudged statistics” in their graphs showing what they deemed to be the agency’s achievements after Duterte’s first year in office.

Netizens were quick to point out the misleading graphs for the 2017 tourism report.

Aside from Sardillo, another Twitter user, @Simply_Clinton, also tweeted about being blocked by the DOT.

“For pointing out their idiocy, I was blocked by a government agency  too! Bahahahaha,” he tweeted.

Even the parody page Superficial Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines had the same experience with DOT after they pointed out the unimpressive Math skills of the Duterte administration, including Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo.

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“We posted about the present administration’s greatness in Mathematics earlier, specifically exemplified by #PresidentDuterte, FOREIGN Sec. Cayetano, and Tourism Sec. Wanda Corazon-Teo,” SGRP posted on Facebook. “And now, we have been blocked by the Department of Tourism – Philippines on Twitter! Yehey!”

“Is it going to become common practice for official government pages to block all critics and dissidents, too? #SuperficialGazette #AchievementUnlocked,” the page added.

In the comments section, SGRP asked: “Honest question: Does the blocking of citizens by official government avenues have any Constitutional implications on the right to free speech? Paging Professor Tony La Viña, Atty. Jesus Falcis / Jesus Falcis, and other lawyers.”

Lawyer Falcis responded, “I would say yes, blocking a Filipino citizen by a government FB page would constitute illegal prior restraint or censorship of speech as a general rule (there may be exceptions for blocking users who consistently and frequently comments unprotected speech such as obscenity and libel).”

                                                                                          

Back to Sardillo’s tweet, after getting blocked, he warned DOT that he would file a formal complaint against them unless they unblock him.

“@TourismPHL Fair warning, restore my access to this government/public account ASAP or I will file a formal complaint against you,” he said.

Sardillo pointed out the Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA), specifically the provision about the denial of request for access to government service. It states, “Any denial of request for access to government service shall be fully explained in writing, stating the name of the person making the denial and the grounds upon which such denial is based. Any denial of request is deemed to have been made with the permission or clearance from the highest authority having jurisdiction over the government office or agency concerned.”

He also noted Republic Act 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees), particularly Section 4’s provision as to the norms of conduct of public officials and employees. Sardillo posted a screenshot of what “responsiveness to the public” entails, as per the law. It states, “Public officials and employees shall extend prompt, courteous, and adequate service to the public. Unless otherwise provided by law or when required by the public interest, public officials and employees shall provide information of their policies and procedures in clear and understandable language, ensure openness of information, public consultations and hearings whenever appropriate, encourage suggestions, simplify and systematize policy, rules and procedures, avoid red tape and develop an understanding and appreciation of the socio-economic conditions prevailing in the country, especially in the depressed rural and urban areas.”

In the US, American President Donald Trump was sued by a free-speech group for blocking Twitter users. The lawsuit filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University in New York sued Trump for blocking the accounts of some Twitter users due to “an unconstitutional effort to suppress dissent.”

Recently, a federal court in Virginia ruled in favor of a plaintiff who sued a local county politician for violating the plaintiff’s First Amendment rights after blocking him from her Facebook page.

“Brian Davison sued the chairwoman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, who temporarily banned him from her Facebook page after he posted criticism of local officials last year,” as per The Wall Street Journal report.

Judge James Cacheris found the chairwoman, Phyllis Randall, guilty of violating Davison’s First Amendment rights by blocking him from posting or commenting on her page because as per judgment, Randall was using her social media page in a public capacity. It was her personal page, but she used it to solicit feedback from her constituents.

However, the judge also noted that his ruling should not stop public officials from moderating their comments section to prevent harassment.

Sardillo later tweeted that the DOT has unblocked him. Asked if there was any explanation from the part of the government agency, he said that he would simply assume that “it was just a mistake.”

Sardillo is lawyer Marco Antonio Luisito V. Sardillo III who graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University Law, worked for a private firm, and flew to Singapore for his master’s degree in public policy on a scholarship. He was then invited to work for the PCGG and became the youngest Intramuros Administrator at 33 during former President Benigno Aquino III’s administration.

Sources: ( businesstips.ph , reuters.com , nymag.com , inquirer.net )

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Netizens slam Duterte for saying women ‘could not stand threats and intimidation’

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President Rodrigo Duterte drew flak for another controversial comment involving women after he remarked on May 24 that women “could not stand threats and intimidation.”

Duterte said that while he believed in women’s competence, it does not necessarily ring true in all aspects of life.

“I believe in the woman, the competence and capability, pero hindi lahat sa buhay dapat.Hindi ka, hindi, hindi. Dapat lang. It’s not appropriate when you cannot stand threats and intimidation,” he said in his May 24 speech.

He also said that women should be “prim and proper” and talked about his reservation in sending women police and soldiers to the field because unlike men, they did not grow up with a mindset that involves violence.

“Ang mga babae, sundalo pati pulis, ayaw ko ‘yan sa bukid. Unlike men kami, maliit pa lang, suntukan, bakbakan, barilan. And we grew up with a sort of a mindset na sometimes prone to violence. Itong mga babae, prim and proper man ‘yan, isang tingin lang sa nanay niyan, wala na tunaw na ‘yan. Tapos gawin mong pulis, ipaaway mo doon. Naku,” Duterte remarked.

Netizens then took to social media to react to Duterte’s most recent statements, making #BabaeAko trend again on Twitter.

“Mr. President, you just horrifyingly disrespected your own mother who bravely fought against the Marcos dictatorship. She withstood threats and intimidation. Siya ay babae! #BabaeAko,” a Twitter user remarked.

Forensic expert Dr. Raquel Fortun spoke out, too, saying “I am threatened and intimidated a lot. All my life. Don’t me. #BabaeAko.”

So did film and theater actress Chai Fonacier, who said, “Encouraging women — and I mean including those who identify as women — and our friends from the entire spectrum to share your #BabaeAko statements to fight the misogyny that the President and his ilk normalize through their behavior. Make them remember the feminine strength.”

KABATAAN Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago also reacted, saying she refused to be stereotyped.

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay urged other Filipinos to protest against Duterte’s misogynistic statements.

Other Twitter users weighed in on the issue.

Duterte’s previous misogynistic remarks

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His remarks in his speech on May 24 seemed to have sought to explain another controversial remark he made on May 16 when he said that he did not want a politician, especially a woman, to become the next Ombudsman.

“Mag-nominate sila, pero I choose, but gusto ko ‘yung bilib ang tao sa integrity niya. Of course it could not be a politician, lalo na hindi babae,” he said during a chance interview.

This gave birth to the launching of the #BabaeAko movement on social media on May 21 by women activists and other people who also want to protest Duterte’s misogynistic and sexist statements.

One of  the women who joined the #BabaeAko campaign was former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo who said, “Akala ko taumbayan ang boss ni Duterte. Yun pala sina Marcos, Gloria, Trump at China. Para sa bayang makatarungan at malaya, lalaban ako.”

In February, he was also slammed for telling his audience of former NPA rebels that he told his soldiers to shoot female rebels in the vagina.

Sources: ( rappler.comphilstar.com )

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New DOT chief to ask Montano why he rushed official New York engagement to watch Broadway show

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Newly installed Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said she plans on talking with Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) COO Cesar Montano to ask for his side on certain accusations that were hurled against him.

Among these accusations came from an Abante report where Montano was said to have rushed a speaking engagement staged by the DOT in New York to watch the Broadway musical show “Hamilton.”

DOT reportedly launched the Philippine Tourism Presentation and Dinner Reception on May 9 to showcase Philippine tourism and fashion at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. Montano was introduced as the event’s keynote speaker, but he was said to have only spoken for a bit before hurriedly leaving the venue, disappointing the guests, which also included US officials.

Montano was said to have been invited to the event in behalf of the now-resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo. He was also named as one of the two hosts, the other being Teo, of the said event.

In reaction to this report about Montano, Puyat said she would talk to Montano as well as the Tourism attache and other DOT officials who attended the event to verify the accusation in the report mentioned above.

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Puyat said that she would investigate into the “Buhay Carinderia” program that the TPB is set to implement. This was after Philippine Star Boo Chanco accused Montano of issuing P80-million worth of three checks to the event proponent and organizer.

“I still don’t have the papers. I will be asking [and] will be arranging a meeting with Mr. Cesar Montano to ask about ‘yung mga nabasa ko sa ‘Buhay Carinderia’ – kung totoo ba na walang bidding ‘yung P80 million na advance,” Puyat said on May 15.

“I’m planning to talk to him and ask his side. I want to ask all those who were there if it actually happened,” Puyat added.

In March 2017, TPB employees filed a complaint against Montano for his alleged corruption and mismanagement of the agency. These include hiring friends and relatives, using TPB’s funds for personal trips, and showing incompetence in fulfilling his obligations as the agency’s COO.

Sources: ( tnt.abante.com.phphilstar.comrappler.com )

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Eldest Tulfo vows to help Wanda clear her name, berates ‘black sheep’ Ben over controversial P60-M DOT ad deal

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Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo spoke up about the controversy involving his siblings, now resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and hosts Ben and Erwin Tulfo, over the P60 million tourism ad deal.

The eldest Tulfo wrote in his Inquirer column on May 10 that while President Rodrigo Duterte himself advised the Tulfo family to avoid talking to the media, he took it upon himself as the family’s acting patriarch to tell the story behind the controversy.

First up, Ramon blamed Teo for not hiring smart staff members who could have advised her against inking a deal with PTV 4, where one of the Tulfo brothers, Ben, was a blocktimer.

As a blocktimer, Ben pays for his TV show’s airtime on the state-run channel.

According to Ramon, Wanda was only complying with President Duterte’s injunction for his Cabinet secretaries to support PTV 4, adding that she did not know Ben’s company would get most of the multimillion advertising contract with DOT.

He also hit Ben, whom he called a “black sheep” with a “middle child” syndrome as the fifth child out of 10 siblings, for signing the P60-million advertising contract with PTV 4 despite knowing that there would be a conflict of interest on Wanda’s part.

Ramon also said that Wanda still tried to save Ben, who insisted on his innocence amid the controversy, leading her to resign from her post. He also explained that Wanda seemed to have forgotten the fact that her husband was on the board of director of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza), a part of DOT, when Duterte appointed her as tourism chief. He added that it should have been up to her husband to step down from his post upon his wife’s appointment.

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In the same column, he also slammed Wanda’s lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, whom he said did not even consult the Tulfo brothers on returning the P60-million funds from the ad deal. He also described the lawyer as “all talk,” a counsel who’s only focused on gaining publicity for himself.

Unlike what has been previously reported about Wanda resigning out of delicadeza amid the controversy, Ramon let it slip that he commended President Duterte for “sacking Wanda,” prompting some people to ask whether Wanda was fired instead of resigned.

Before he ended his column, he vowed to support “Wanda’s fight to clear her name, but not Ben’s.”
Wanda resigned on May 8 to show delicadeza and to spare everyone, especially Duterte, from the pain caused by the controversy, according to her lawyer.

The issue started with the Commission on Audit’s report showing the DOT paying P60 million worth of commercials to PTV 4, which in turn, tapped Ben’s Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. to air the tourism ads during Ben and Erwin’s show “Kilos Pronto.”

Malacañang said that Teo’s resignation does not mean that she is off the hook since the Ombudsman is still looking into her and other government officials involved in the controversial ad deal.

Sources: ( inquirer.netnews.abs-cbn.com , nnphilippines.com )

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