Recalling Aquino. Miriam-Defensor Santiago, Social Media Guru

clip_image002MANILA: As ever, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago is once again a revelation we can believe in. At least, I can. Ms Nonconformist, meet Mr Original Aboriginal.

Today, I want to marry Lito Yap David, the lone slingshot crusader, with Ms Miriam, the lone ranger crusader.

I go to Facebook once in a while and I have noticed quite a few times Lito Yap David earnestly campaigning for the ouster or removal from office or, at the very least replacement, of President Noynoy Aquino. And he wants it now! He says:

I wish I could put it in a way really reflective of how I feel about Noynoy Aquino. An entire generation of bright young people was lost because of martial law while in the current case I feel that 3 generations of our people (are) about to be written off, burned (out) and wasted all because we again put an uncaring Aquino to power.

He then quotes like-minded former Senator Kit Tatad as saying (10 March 2014, manilastandardtoday.com):

Our desolate national landscape is something we owe entirely and singularly to President BS Aquino III. This could explain why not a few seem to be looking forward to seeing Binay succeed him. But with or without Binay in the picture, many would like to see a change in the presidency soon. They would like to see BS III out, not in 2016 as scheduled, but today, now, this very moment – would that they could have done it yesterday!

Et tu, Kit? Senator, First things first!

First, let's debate far and wide on whether or not we could and should remove the incumbent President from office by recall. Let it be a passionate debate; let there be logical fallacies where there may be, but no name-calling please!

Second, let's agree on the approach of how to remove an incumbent President from office, and right now I can think of a handful of options.

One, we can do it with a coup. Some people who have the clout can encourage the military to take power. And Noynoy will have to cut and cut out clean. The problem with that is you are substituting political power with military power, and we now know that history has debunked Mao Tse Tung many times over: Political power does not grow out of the barrel of a gun. That belongs to romantic fiction.

Two, we can do it with People Power. That will be in a bloodless coup, not unlike People Power I in 1986 when President Ferdinand Marcos was forced to abdicate power, or People Power II in 2001 when President Joseph Estrada yielded to popular pressure. We can organize rallies after demonstrations in key cities and towns and shame Noynoy to give up the presidency on his own volition, or by social media we will force him to. Again, we will need the cooperation of the military and the rest of the executive and legislative branches of government, not to mention the judiciary, but we can do it again.

Three, we can do it with a recall vote. We can do that if we mobilize a million citizens to sign a petition on paper. It will take weeks or months, but it can be done.

I think that's too long. There must be a faster way. Now then, let's agree on the method for the madness. Enter Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago! She brandishes as a weapon her insight on social media and politics in the Philippines.

Ms Miriam says, "Social media will be game changer in 2016" (Mia Gonzalez, 10 March 2014, rappler.com). "The future of political warfare will take place online."

I believe her.

With social media, I imagine only a few will have to go out on the streets and demonstrate. Social media is more exciting, more refreshing. I love it because you can be passionate and don’t have to shout. You can out-think and out-create the opposite side any time all the time.

"Claim your (media) power!" she says. Not the multi-billion-peso campaign funds but social media will influence the outcome of the 2016 elections. "It is entirely possible that the 2016 presidential and senatorial elections will be determined by social media," Ms Miriam told students of Assumption College in Makati City on Monday, 10 March, in a gathering celebrating the school's Communication Week. Why not? All things being equal, social media is the social mind.

Social media technologies and systems are tools for communication, to lead or mislead, to inform or infirm, to explain or exclaim, to encourage or discourage, to create or recreate, to construct or destruct. Ms Miriam says some aspirants may have hired social media experts to improve their bids in the next elections, and they have the funds to do that, and more. Not to worry. To the contrary, in the World Wide Web, Ms Miriam says, "netizens have the power to negate the chances of undeserving candidates through social media." With the power of social media, denizens of the Web will be able to browbeat "the candidates with unexplained wealth and their criminal campaign contributors." The evildoers never had it so bad.

She mentions social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as venues where people can "easily and inexpensively" contact each other and share information and insights. Therefore, media and not money will now command attention and votes. The truth will out, no matter who gets hurt. If you don't want to get hurt, get out of the way of the truth!

"The power of the rich politicians becomes more porous, and the political warlords have less control," Ms Miriam says. You can run longer on much less energy than before:

Today, social media has changed the rules of the game. Anyone can participate in the extended debate to distinguish the truth from the propaganda of moneyed candidates. There will be less rallies and motorcades. Such is the power of social media. Claim it!

Now!

Oh yes, as Ms Miriam says it, "Social media has changed the rules of the game." I thank her for pointing out that awesome fact. And, I say, social media has transformed Marshall McLuhan's "The medium is the message" into this: "The mind is the message." Even to this: "The mind is the medium."

A contrarian, ANN doubts such awesome power of social media in the Philippines, making much of the World Bank 2013 data that Internet penetration in these islands is relatively low, standing at 35.2%, a far cry from Malaysia at 65.8%, Hong Kong at 72.8% and Singapore at 74.2% (author not named, 11 March 2014, ffemagazine.com). Yet ANN is careful to cite that the financial blog 24/7 Wall Street named the Philippines "the social media capital of the world" in 2011, and that "a single status message successfully led to a massive rally that called for the abolition of the pork barrel system." Even by those who count the number of Internet users and not the power of social media itself, the power of social media cannot be denied.

Personally, I should know. I have been an inveterate blogger since February 2007 (see my personal blog Frank A Hilario, blogspot.com), and I now claim to be the most creative writer in the world, with at least 1,700 essays each of at least 1,000 words on diverse topics from Asingan to Zimbabwe (see my one-stop-shop blog, The Creattitudes Encyclopedia, blogspot.com). (Excluding this sentence, this essay has 1,700 words, just coincidence.) Without advertisements for myself or any of my blogs, you can google for "Frank A. Hilario" (the period after the A. is necessary) and come up with at least 100,000 citations. Google "Jomar Hilario" who is my son and into Internet marketing, and you get only 10,000 results, 10 times fewer. Not surprising. Jomar is targeting only those who want to become Virtual Assistants; I am targeting the whole world with my creative ideas. Right now I have 17 active blogs.

Never mind the low penetration of Internet in Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao; in marketing, it's Metro Manila that counts, whether you're marketing products or ideas. That's what I learned 40 years ago when I was working as a copywriter for Tony Zorilla's Pacifica Publicity Bureau under Nonoy Gallardo as Creative Director. I learned that Metro Manila is the mind and market of the Philippines – if you have sold it in Manila, you have sold it in the entire archipelago. So, with social media, you just have to target those in Metro Manila and suburbs.

Knowing all that, I don't want to wait for 2016, that long. I want that presidential recall now. Let's use social media and claim power! Then it will be our social media savvy against theirs. The accused have the right to plead innocent and disprove the accusations; it will then become their social media against our social media. This will be a great spectacle, because while you can buy the traditional mass media, you can't silence social media. I remember being rejected by the major Manila papers one after the other, but when I learned to blog, I saw that blogging was the revenge of the unpublished writer. Today I see social media as the revenge of the unpublished masses.

Ms Miriam also says the Assumption students should go on to "fight back against social evils" and

Be the tide that will cleanse the Philippines of the corrupt and the useless. Weaponize social media. Fire up your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and Instagram accounts on demanding social change. You can do this by posting content that does not only inform, but also entertains and motivates.

"Learn graphic design, videography, and programming language," Ms Miriam says. "This way, you will be more equipped in creating riveting content that will arouse, organize and mobilize the masses."

Excellent advice. I say, go do it!

I'm not poor; I do not speak for myself. As the General Manager of my hometown Asingan, Pangasinan's Nagkaisa Multi-Purpose Cooperative, I speak for the millions of poor farmers who are members and non-members of coops who have yet to be emancipated from poverty. I know that Noynoy has so far neglected the poor. His Conditional Cash Transfer will never emancipate the poor from poverty. It just encourages mendicancy.

The best that Noynoy Aquino has had to offer to the poor famers and such other producers in the Philippines is what NEDA calls inclusive growth. Unfortunately, the national plan includes the active participation of traders who are allowed to siphon off from the producers all the values in the supply and marketing chains. The rich (traders) still get richer and the poor (farmers) still get poorer. With inclusive growth and Noynoy Aquino as Chair, NEDA is portraying and perpetrating the status quo – social media is for portraying and perpetrating the status good.

To emancipate them from poverty, the poor producers must be taught and supported by their cooperatives in becoming their own middlemen, as simple as that. That's why I have called for Super Coops (see my essay, "The Super Coops of 2014," Nagkaisa, blogspot.com).

We want the next President of the Philippines to be truly pro-poor, and only social media will help us find him – or her, I don't mind, as long as we find him ASAP. If social media finds that you are not pro-poor, we want you out!

If Noynoy Aquino is innocent as charged, he has the social media to bring out his case to the World Wide Web. Fair enough?

So, someone with clout will have to start a petition for Noynoy's recall at change.org or avaaz.org. We will submit the petition to the world when we have 1 million online signatures. The count starts today.

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now!

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