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Davao City, Philippines

Ate tweets unkind

November 06, 2019 - Wednesday 4:11 AM by Atty. Jamil Matalam

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Seventeen died, 15 villagers were trapped in Mt. Apo for days, a woman got severely injured for saving a girl from a collapsing wall, several commercial and residential buildings were destroyed, mothers and sisters cried, hundreds of school building fell after successive strong earthquakes shook central and southern Mindanao by the end of October. Many lost their homes; some, their loved ones. Yet despite these misfortunes, suffered mostly by the poor and vulnerable of our society, some elitist and fortunate of our country had to tweet uncomforting and provocative words. They have to. Yoly Ong tweeted: “Hindi pa ba NYO Ma-gets? Gusto na kayong lamunin ng lupa. Magdasal na kayo at humingi ng tawad (Don’t you get it? The earth wants to swallow you. You should start praying and ask for forgiveness).” Leah Navarro has to entertain the thought that the earthquakes in Mindanao could possibly be a “Retribution.” Why the unkindness? What I would like to do here is to point out all the wrong things in their tweets.

First, it was addressed not to a group of people they hate, but virtually those who suffered from the earthquakes across Mindanao. Ong in her first DDS-earthquake tweet referred to the DDS as the Davao Disaster Survivors. She could have been specific but instead opted to be generic in defining DDS. Therefore, her use of DDS can be easily interpreted to mean every one who suffered from the earthquake and not to a particular group. Her subsequent DDS-earthquake tweets, where she implied specificity through distinctions between the DDS and the “Mindanaoans who are not DDS,” for instance, will not exonerate her. The damage was done, and everything was too little too late. Moreover, she can always specify, or name names in her tweet but does not do so; to make the target of her tweet clear.  

A second and related point is that it suggests that the earthquakes were a damnation we all justly deserve. Our retribution, thought by Leah Navarro. The earthquakes were nothing but a portent of the punishment we all deserve because of our wrongdoings. Thus, we better start praying and ask for forgiveness. None of these saintly judgments by Ong and Navarro has objective basis. Do they have a machine where they can analyze the sins we have made in our lifetime? Clearly, this blunder shows that they are not all knowing and therefore have no reason to suggest that the earthquakes are punishment we all deserve.

Third, and the funniest one, is that Ong supposes that we are all believers of Quiboloy and reminds us wrongly. Video clips of Quiboloy have been circulating in the social media whereby he claimed to have stopped the earthquakes. Ong in the first DDS-earthquake tweet goes on to say, “Quiboloy can’t stop earthquakes. He can only stop Kappa.” Both are wrong. Most residents of Mindanao find it outrageously funny that Quiboloy seriously thinks he can stop earthquakes. We already know that, and it is wrong for her to think we do not know that. The funniest and the worst blunder is for Ong to think, and had the guts to remind us wrongly that Quiboloy can stop Kappa. We all know that Quiboloy cannot stop Kappa, and that it was not him but the Securities and Exchange Commission that stopped the investment scam of the Kappa ministry.

I am in neither position to preach someone to refrain from hating another, nor to say that I do not hate someone. But it would have been a lot better when we hate someone we do not include persons who had done nothing to us, or those who do not join or agree with us. If Ong and Navarro hate President Duterte then they should make him the target of their hate tweets and refrain from including people who were simply at the wrong place when natural calamity happened. Make the target of their tweets specific; name them. Had Ong been more specific in the target of her tweets, had she named names, then I think there would be less violent reactions against her tweet. Instead she opted to include every survivor of the earthquake to disguise her hate for a specific person or group. Hence, her tweet was easily received to be unkind, callous, and elitist.

Yet despite her unkind tweets, all Ong did was to delete the first DDS-earthquake tweet. No apologies at all. Not completely mindful of the insensitivities of her tweet she never, at least, tweeted apologies to those who have been hurt although unintended. Instead, she apologizes to Vice-President Robredo, and merely clarifies that she never intended to hurt the Mindanaons but only the Duterte Diehard Survivors, and her intention was to make them think of their malice. Not only is there bad faith in her change of the meaning of DDS, they are not the same from the first DDS-earthquake tweet, but she thinks because it is not her intention to hurt she should be understood; a refusal to admit a mistake. The first tweet was a mistake; all that is to be done is to admit it, and apologize for hurting us unintentionally.