Lady Maroons fail to repeat sweep of La Salle

By Denver Del Rosario

The University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Maroons are back on the losing end as they crumbled before defending champions, De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Archers in straight sets, 25-27, 11-25, 17-25, in the UAAP 79 volleyball tournament today at Filoil Flying V Arena.

After a strong showing in the first set, the Diliman-based squad eventually lost steam in the second and third sets as the Lady Archers took advantage of their reception woes.

“Andun pa rin yung errors sa first ball,” said team captain Arielle Estranero. “It’s normal to commit an error during the game pero lately, napapadami siya, and it’s something we have to work on in training.”

Majoy Baron led the onslaught for DLSU with 16 points—six of which are service aces–while Des Cheng, Kim Dy, and Tine Tiamzon contributed 11 each.

On the other hand, sophomore Isa Molde spearheaded the charge for the Lady Maroons with 12 points, while Diana Carlos added 11.

While the Lady Maroons played slightly better in non-scoring skills (digging, receiving, and setting), the Lady Archers outperformed them in the scoring departments (spiking, blocking, and serving).

The Taft-based squad proved their blocking prowess with nine block points over the Lady Maroons’ two. Moreover, the Lady Archers scored 11 points in the service department, while UP only registered a single point.

The Lady Archers surged ahead in the first set with a six-point lead, 4-10, courtesy of attacks from Dy and Cheng.

However, the Lady Maroons rallied in the later part of the set as they took the driver’s seat, 19-17, with an error from Kim Fajardo and a drop ball by Molde.

The Diliman-based squad had two set points at 24-23 and 25-24, but DLSU showed composure as they snatched the set, 25-27, via an error by Marian Buitre and a block by Cheng.

The Lady Maroons lost their energetic display as DLSU tallied a 10-point lead in the second set, 10-20.

An ace by Baron and an error by Buitre finished the set in favor of the Taft-based team.

In the third set, the Lady Archers built a six-point lead midway, 8-14, courtesy of attacks by Baron.

The Lady Maroons tried to claw back, 12-15, via a Carlos spike, but DLSU scored four consecutive points from an attack by Dy and three aces from Baron, 12-19.

The Lady Maroons eventually failed to stage a comeback as Baron closed the game with a block on Nicole Tiamzon.

With the loss, UP sinks deeper in the team standings with a 5-5 win-loss card, tied with the Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws in fifth place.

For their four remaining games, Estranero looks to maintain a positive outlook.

“Siyempre, tuloy lang ang laban,” said Estranero. “The fight is not yet over. We just have to build our confidence from the past few games and we can’t let this game affect us.”

The Lady Maroons will next face the Adamson University (ADU) Lady Falcons on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

(Photo taken on Feb. 11, 2017, first-round match between UP and UE.) 

State U football squads emerge victorious

By Luisa Morales

The University of the Philippines (UP) nabbed back-to-back wins as both UP Diliman men’s and women’s football teams overpowered their opponents at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, Saturday.

The Lady Maroons got their first win of the season, coming back against the University of Santo Tomas (UST), 2-1.

Meanwhile, the Fighting Maroons handed second-seed Far Eastern University their first loss, 1-0.

The España squad controlled the match during the first half, converting their possessions with chances and making the match a tough start for the Lady Maroons.

Maroon goalie Nicole Adlawan kept the match goalless for most of the half, but Tigress Charise Lemoran managed to elude State U’s defense and bring the ball to the back of the net at injury time (45+2) to put UST up, 1-0.

But the Lady Maroons did not back down. The defending champions finally showed up at the second half, scoring two goals within three minutes to rise up against UST.

State U substitute Patricia Malonzo scored at the 57th mark and provided an assist at the 60th mark to teammate Claudia Mendoza to give them the lead, 2-1.

UST tried to bring the match back to a deadlock, but Adlawan denied them every time.

Meanwhile, the Fighting Maroons also emerged on top in an intense battle against FEU, one of the top football teams this season.

Both teams drew a lot of chances in the first half but could not convert, finishing the half still at a deadlock.

Despite misses from good attempts by State U, the defending champions kept their aggressiveness in the second half.

In a spectacular sequence, Maroon JB Borlongan intercepted the ball from the FEU side and passed to teammate Arvin Resuma to lead the ball past the Tamaraw goalie to break the deadlock at the 65th minute mark, 1-0.

State U stayed on the attack almost hitting another goal from a free kick if not for the crossbar, while FEU struggled to cope with UP’s offense.

The Fighting Maroons are now tied with the Tamaraws at the second spot with 18 points each, while the Lady Maroons improve to four points at the expense of second-ranked UST.

The Lady Maroons are set to face the FEU Lady Tamaraws on March 29 while the Fighting Maroons go up against the University of the East (UE) on March 23.

(The photo was taken from the UP Women’s Football Team Facebook page.)

UP ends drought, stays in contention for Final 4

by Keith Magcaling

The University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Maroons snapped their four-game losing skid with a four-set win, 25-14, 18-25, 25-15, 25-10, over the University of the East (UE) Lady Warriors on Wednesday at the Fil Oil Flying V Center in San Juan.

Tots Carlos led the charge for the Lady Maroons with 21 points, while veteran Kathy Bersola racked in a season-high 18 points.

Sophomore Isa Molde chipped in 16 markers, as the Maroons bombarded the Warriors with 49 attack points.

The Lady Warriors shook off a bad opening set performance and caught UP off-guard early in the second set to enter the first technical time out with a five-point lead, 8-3, four of which were service aces.

The Lady Warriors, led by skipper Shara Adorador, who had 12 points, stayed in front throughout the second frame, and a service error from Carlos saw them level the match at one set apiece.

However, the Lady Maroons, hit with a series of setbacks, including losing libero Pia Gaiser to an ACL injury, were determined to get out of the slump and end the drought as they aggressively closed out the succeeding sets.

Captain Ayel Estrañero shelled out 43 excellent sets and outmaneuvered opposing setter Roselle Baliton who had 25.

The Diliman-based volleybelles tallied their first win in five games after starting their campaign with a 4-0 win-loss card. They improve to 5-4 and are in a four-way tie with Far Eastern University (FEU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), and National University (NU) at the third spot, while the Lady Warriors remain at seventh place with a 1-8 record.

The Lady Maroons look to once again upset the defending champions, the De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Spikers (7-2), when they face them on March 19 at the Fil Oil Flying V Arena in San Juan at 4 p.m

Journalism wins 2017 CMC Cup

For the first time since 2013, the College of Mass Communication’s Journalism Department has reclaimed the annual CMC Cup.

Journalism clinched the title after amassing 353 points, followed by the Broadcast Communication Department with 310. The departments of Communication Research and Film rounded out the last two spots with 298 and 211 points, respectively.

Meanwhile, the college also awarded four exceptional students for their participation and dedication in the Cup’s games.

Denver del Rosario, Angela Buensuesco, Arjay Torno and Rocky Morilla were hailed most valuable players for Journalism, Broadcast Communication, Communication Research and Film, respectively.

The three-day-long, points system sporting event among CMC’s departments consists of a variety of games that tests students’ motor skills such as modified relay and running games. The tournament is then capped off with traditional basketball and volleyball matches.

With the goal of fostering “camaraderie, friendly competition, and sportsmanship among Maskom students, faculty, and personnel,” this year’s CMC Cup rolled out with a gaming theme, with matches named after well-known apps such as Angry Birds and Pokemon Go, among others.

(Photo grabbed from the CMC Cup Facebook page.)

ADMU sends UP to fourth-straight loss in one-sided Battle of Katipunan

By John Remil Isaga and Luisa Morales

Gone are the days when the UP Fighting Maroons were the top contenders for the UAAP Season 79 Women’s Volleyball Championship.

After losing star libero Princess Gaiser to a career-ending anterior cruciate ligament tear, the dispirited Maroons were handed their fourth straight loss in a dominating sweep (15-25, 14-25, 15-25) by the Ateneo Lady Eagles in the opening bout of the second round at the Araneta Coliseum, Sunday.

The Diliman-based fan favorites never got their rhythm going as they were handily dismantled by their neighboring sisters.

The Lady Eagles were dominant in almost every aspect of the match, completely overpowering the Maroons in spikes, 44-24. Errors plagued the Diliman squad with ADMU getting 21 free points courtesy of State U.

It was not a good day for the UP offense either, with none of the Maroons getting double digit points.

In their lowest output in scoring of the season, Isa Molde led State U with only eight points. Jia Maraguinot shined the brightest of the Katipunan squad with 17.

With this loss, UP falls to sixth place after once going undefeated at 4-0. They will try to bounce back against the UE Lady Warriors on Wednesday, March 15 at the Fil Oil Flying V Arena, San Juan. #

Ateneo booters draw UP, remain undefeated

by Luisa Morales

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons failed to pull off a win against Katipunan rivals Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles, ending their second meeting of the season with a 1-1 draw at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, Sunday.

The Eagles maintain their clean slate as they go through their eighth game of the season without a loss.

Determined to avenge their first round encounter, the Diliman booters started the match strong, putting together on-target shots that had the ADMU defense on their heels.

Maroon Kintaro Miyagi was the first to break the deadlock at the 32nd minute mark. The Diliman team had several attempts to increase the lead but ended the half still at 1-0.

Ateneo had their minds set on a comeback by the second half. Eagle Jayra Rocha managed to score a header from a corner kick to bring the match back to a deadlock at the 66th minute, 1-1.

With plenty of time to take the lead again, UP remained dangerous until the end of the match but was not able to covert.

Ateneo remains at the top of the rankings, pulling away a little more from second seed Far Eastern University with 20 points.

The Fighting Maroons trail by 5 points at 15, good enough for the third spot.

State U falls to National U in 4 sets

By Luisa Morales

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons end the first round with a loss, falling in four sets, 24-26,13-25, 25-22, 20-25, to the National University (NU) Bulldogs at the Mall of Asia Arena, Sunday.

State U started the first set with strong block points, and errors from the NU side gave them a significant advantage into the middle of the set, 16-12, but the Bulldogs came biting back with spikes late into the set, getting the 1-0 lead, 26-24.

Carrying the momentum from the first set, the NU squad dominated State U in almost every aspect, leading at one point by 12, 20-8. Despite a late run by the Diliman team, the margin was too large for the Maroons to overcome, giving up the second set, 25-13.

Getting a 2-0 lead, the Bulldogs looked poised to sweep the match.

Determined to not go down without a fight, UP kept the third set close.

With heroics from veterans Alfred Valbuena and Mark Millete, the Diliman squad went back-and-forth with NU, but crucial points late into the set kept UP alive, allowing the Maroons to take the third set, 25-22.

It was a tight contest early in the fourth, with NU up 8-7 heading into the first technical timeout. The Bulldogs looked to bite with force as they rallied after the break to lead UP 16-9. However, UP was not going away too soon, bringing the game as close as 23-17.

With key plays from Fauzi Ismail and crucial errors from the Diliman team, the Bulldogs were able to close the game, 25-20.

“Siguro kailangan lang [ng team] ay magmature sa lahat ng bagay, “ Fighting Maroon Mark Millete said on what the Diliman squad needs to do going into the second round.

Millete was the lone consistent bright spot for State U and the only Maroon to hit double digits, scoring 20 points. The team also missed the services of skipper Wendel Miguel who is recovering from a dislocated shoulder.

Four Bulldogs finished in double digits. Ismail led the team with 21, while Bryan Bagunas and James Natividad had 12 markers apiece.

National U closed the first round with a five-game winning streak, holding on to the second spot with a 6-1 win-loss record. The Diliman squad dropped to 3-4, tied at fourth place with the University of Santo Tomas (UST).

UP ends round one with a heartbreaking loss, loses Gaiser to torn ACL

By Luisa Morales

The University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Maroons end their first round campaign with a heartbreaking five-set loss to the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs, 23-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-18, 12-15, at the Mall of Asia Arena, Sunday.

Early in the game, State U libero Princess Gaiser suffered a knee injury and was out for the rest of the match. The graduating player has been ruled out of the season due to a torn ACL, ending her collegiate career.

Despite being undermanned, the Diliman squad managed to keep the set tight against the Bulldogs.

By the end of the first, it was the Bulldogs closing out the set due to costly errors from UP and a powerful spike from NU captain Jaja Santiago to lead 1-0, 25-23.

The NU squad looked to bite coming into the second set. Starting strong, the Lady Bulldogs were able to build a comfortable lead, 21-12. Late heroics from the Diliman squad was not enough to take back the set, giving National U a 2-0 lead, 25-17.

Unfazed by NU’s lead, State U fought back in the third set, capitalizing on the Bulldog’s errors. The Diliman squad stayed alive and took the set, 25-22.

With momentum on their side, the Lady Maroons were ready to mount a comeback. The squads went back-and-forth in the beginning of the fourth set, but strong spikes from Tots Carlos and veteran Nicole Tiamzon powered State U to pull away by the middle of the set, 19-13.

Santiago and the Bulldogs had a mini-run late in the set, but the Maroons were too far ahead and tied the game at 2-2, 25-18.

Pressure and stakes were high in the deciding set. The Diliman Squad dominated the start of the set, looking to complete the comeback as they held onto a 4-point lead, 10-6.

Despite the momentum, the Lady Bulldogs pulled off a 9-2 run to close out the match, 15-12.

“Lumalaban naman kami…. Siguro sobrang pinatay kami sa errors, yun lang naman talaga yung problema, and yung endgame, parang dun kami nastuck,” UP Libero Justine Dorog said about the match. State U looked poised to complete the comeback but failed to close out.

Marian Buitre led the UP squad with 20 points, followed closely behind by Tots Carlos with 18 and Tiamzon with 15. Team Captain Jaja Santiago led NU with 18 markers, getting help from teammate Jorelle Singh with 15.

UP suffers its third straight defeat and ends the first round with a 4-3 slate. State U is in a four-way tie at third with the NU Lady Bulldogs and the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, and the University of Santo Tomas Tigresses.

The Lady Maroons face a tough challenge in their opening match of the second round as they go up against top-ranked Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Lady Eagles  on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Ateneo sweeps Diliman volley squads, Lady Maroons suffer first defeat

By Mark Kevin Reginio

It’s a sorry Sunday for the UP faithfuls.

The University of the Philippines (UP) volleyball teams suffered straight set losses against its Katipunan neighbors Ateneo De Manila University in the first round of UAAP Season 79 volleyball wars, Sunday at the Filoil V Flying Arena.

While the UP community had high hopes for the women’s team’s fifth straight win, the Lady Eagles had other plans in mind as they demolished the Lady Maroons, 25-14, 25-19, 25-21.

The veterans of the Diliman-based squad, Nicole Tiamzon and Kathy Bersola, were silenced by the defenders of Ateneo which led to their low production of four and three points respectively.

The Lady Maroons showed signs of life late in the third set when they overcome the eight big markers built by Ateneo to get closer at 23-20, yet the effort of Tots Carlos to delay the Lady Eagles’ victory was quickly answered by a powerful crosscourt spike delivered by Jho Mariguinot who scored 12 points.

Isa Molde and Carlos’ combined 24 points came short against the three double digit scorers of Ateneo- Maraguinot, Bea De Leon, and Mich Morente who scored a total of 32 points.

Ateneo’s assistant coach Sherwin Meneses said they really prepared for this game and focused on their service receives to ease their wing spikers.

“Simula ng dumating si Coach Thai [Bundit], nag-prepare na yung team para sa UP. [Nag]-service receive talaga kami ng isang linggo [at] maganda ‘yung receive kanina so lumuwag yung blockers sa kanila (Maraguinot and Kat Tolentino),” he said.

The attempt of the Lady Maroons to have a perfect record was spoiled by the Katipunan-based squad. UP is currently third in the standings with a 4-1 win-loss card while Ateneo surged to the top spot tied with their archrival De La Salle University at 5-1.

Meanwhile, the momentum from the 5-set win of the UP’s men’s team against the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) was not carried over in their game against the defending champions, as they go out in straight sets against the Blue Eagles, 25-18, 26-24, 25-16.

The Fighting Maroons almost stole the second set, but they were plagued by two consecutive errors in service and attack to gift the set to Ateneo, 26-24.

Those errors haunted them in the third set as they were buried early, 14-5. UP’s Wendel Miguel and Mark Millete tried to rally the team and close the gap but came lacing by 7 points, 23-16.

UP’s team captain Miguel said their lapses in the second set were carried over in the third as they failed to recover from those.

“Parang doon sa second set ang nangyari parang ang mga inexecute namin parang hindi pinag-isipan kasi na-pressure [kami]…[p]arang hindi na naka-recover agad,” he said.

He also explained the team’s game plan was to give more sets to Millete, who led their scoring board with 15 points, 13 coming from attacks.

“Si Millete lang ang halos aatake ng lahat. Yun talaga yung inaral namin ng buong week, said Miguel, who had 11 excellent receptions.

“Alam naman na kami pinakamatanda ni Alfred so kami yung babasahin [kaya] [m]as nag-focus ako sa receive and depensa,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ateneo’s leading scorer Antony Koyfman, who registered 16 points,12 attacks and three blocks, foiled UP’s run in the final set to take home the game.

The Blue Eagles stay undefeated at 6-0 while the Fighting Maroons slid down to fourth tied with Far Eastern University (FEU) and UST.

UP’s men’s and women’s teams will next face the FEU volleyball squads on March 1 at the Filoil Flying V Arena, with the men’s team up first at 8 a.m., while the Lady Maroons hit the court at 2 p.m.

The myth of light without darkness

By Meeko Angela Camba

The world is not simply split between good and evil.

There in the vast in-between are intricate points of intersection, neither black nor white, truth nor lie; harmless intentions turned harmful outcomes as well as cruel means that led to happy ends.

Such is the story of Faust, a discontented philosopher who sold his soul to the devil, Mephisto, in exchange for attaining knowledge, and hence happiness, beyond his wildest imagination.

Originally from Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s “Faust,” the play tackles the complexity of morality, the value of innocence, the purpose and art of knowledge and finally, the role of religion in perpetuating the evil binding communities together.

Adapted to Filipino by renowned playwright Rody Vera, Dulaang UP’s (DUP) production localized such themes in the context of contemporary Philippines.

Under the direction of Josè Estrella, “Faust” made overt references to the Marcoses and other corrupt “public servants,” and even the proliferating culture of hate and impunity in the ongoing drug war.

The story begins with the devil Mephisto (Paolo O’Hara) mocking God (Jojo Cayabyab) of how the latter’s decision of giving humans free will would not only unearth their natural tendencies of evil, but would eventually lead to their own destruction. To prove his theory, Mephisto entices Faust (Neil Ryan Sese), who was considered a good man in their little town, into a world of sin and pleasure.

Through Mephisto’s guidance, Faust falls in love with young and innocent Gretchen (Ina Azarcon-Bolivar), whose life took tragic turns due to their love affair.

Each scene was so carefully crafted and restructured through impeccable use of language to become more understandable, if not natural to the Filipino experience.

Effective storytelling

The set design of Ed Lacson, Jr. was arguably the star of the show. Every set piece was strategically placed in a way that helped the story smoothly transition from one scene to another.

Together with the lights design of Barbie Tan-Tiongco, it successfully transported the audience from one photographic scene to another, breathtaking by themselves, yet perfectly in sync with the rest of the narrative.

Also particularly noteworthy in the production was the undeniable chemistry between the two leads. With comfortable interactions onstage, Sese and O’Hara made it easier to understand the dynamics of the relationship between Faust and Mephisto.

All of this, of course, would not have come together into one coherent, thought-provoking story if not for a clear vision on the part of the director.

But more than its high level of storytelling, DUP’s “Faust” is a statement—a message of sorts to the audience to ask themselves: what does it really mean to be good?

Portraying gender

Gretchen’s downfall played a crucial element in the story, from being the epitome of purity and goodness—a reincarnation of the Virgin Mary, if you will—into being branded as a whore after engaging into a love affair with an older man that left her pregnant.

The young girl is then ostracized by her community and imprisoned for her “crimes” that drove her to madness.

She served merely as a device instead of a character capable of deciding her own narrative. Ironically, the only decisions she was allowed to make were those which led to tragic ends—a commentary on how women are valued and controlled by society, no less.  

Being the only female lead character, and the most powerless at that compared to her two male counterparts, Gretchen’s character only proves how sexism persists in our time.

The production, of course, cannot be faulted for portraying gender as such (it is, after all, a mere adaptation) but instead confronts its audience with a harsh truth, thereby challenging them into doing something about it.

Platform for discourse

“Faust” proves successful in being able to take a foreign piece of material and transforming it not only culturally, but also periodically into something more relevant to its audience.

The production became a platform for discourse—a safe space to question which values we should safeguard and which ones to abandon.

It confronts its audience, quite literally, in saying the real stories are out there—beyond the hundred or so pages of our textbooks, and the four walls of our classrooms. Engage the evils of the world and strive to find the good in it through the stories that we tell.

As Mephisto himself explained: Bahagi lang ako sa dilim na nagbunga sa liwanag.”

Light cannot exist without darkness.

In a time where our country is overwhelmed with so many complex issues and dissonant ideas that further blur the lines separating good and evil, it is here that we find our purpose: to sort through these complicated points of intersection and help our community come out with a more sound concept of what is truly good.


(Photo grabbed from Dulaang UP)


“Faust” is the third in four plays of DUP’s 41st season and is part of the celebration of this year’s Diliman Month. It will have its closing show Feb. 28, 7 p.m. at the Wilfrido Guerrero Theater, Palma Hall, UP Diliman.

Rookie goal seals win for Ateneo, revenge against Maroon booters

By Luisa Morales

The University of the Philippines (UP) Maroons fall to the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Eagles, 1-0, in a highly anticipated rematch of Season 78’s football final, Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

Despite a strong first half from defending champions UP, the Katipunan booters avenged last year’s 4-1 defeat late in the match.

UP had more than a few decent attempts at a goal. Sophomore King Miyagi’s shot was the closest, drifting wide in the 66-minute mark.

However, a goal from Blue Eagle rookie Lorenzo Ceniza in the second half sealed the deal for Ateneo.

The loss snapped a three game winning streak for UP as they remain in third place with 10 points and a 3-1-1 record.

Ateneo claims their sixth straight win and stays in the top spot, now six points away from undefeated second seed Far Eastern University Tamaraws.

The Maroon booters look to bounce back against the FEU Tamaraws on March 2 at 6 p.m. at the Moro Lorenzo Football Field in Ateneo.

(Photo grabbed from the UP Men’s Football Team Facebook page.)

Bloggers, journalists react to proposed social media policy

By Frances Josephine Espeso

Bloggers and media practitioners expressed concerns and criticisms Thursday at a town hall forum presenting the initial draft of the social media policy proposed by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

These concerns included the accreditation of “social media publishers” for coverage of Malacañang events, possible content regulation, the parameters for defining “social media publishers,” and the policy’s contribution to the overall discourse on social media.

In the forum held at the University of the Philippines Diliman’s Bahay ng Alumni, blogger Arpee Lazaro suggested a few more benefits beyond what Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Kristian Ablan mentioned during the presentation of the policy.

“Magkaroon sana ng national registry of accredited bloggers or social media users,” Lazaro said, suggesting check marks appearing next to names of accredited Facebook pages.

Benefits for accredited social media publishers—those with at least 1000 followers and subscribers and have been publishing original news and information consistently and regularly for at least 12 months—include on-site access to PCOO events and activities such as news briefings, interviews and inclusion to the mailing list for PCOO press releases.

The policy also grants social media users—people who maintain social media accounts and communicate and share news, information and opinions online using these accounts—eligibility for PCOO social media volunteer programs and trainings.

The blogger also mentioned the proposed policy’s condition of accredited social media pages sharing all press releases sent by the PCOO, among others.

“Kung accredited ka, sana bigyan ka ng pagkakataon na mamili kung anong press releases yung gusto mong ilabas,” Lazaro said.

“Hindi ka naman pupwedeng maglabas ka nalang ng press release kahit hindi naman relevant sa blog mo,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rey Joseph Nieto of political blog Thinking Pinoy said PCOO should define an arbiter who would validate the truthfulness of the news and information published by accredited social media publishers.

According to the social media policy, one of the responsibilities of accredited social media publishers is to “validate the truthfulness of the news content that they generate, publish and share.”

“While it’s true po that we have to exert every effort para siguruhin na tama at walang sablay ang mga pina-publish natin sa ating mga platforms, hindi po malinaw rito kung sino ang magdedecide kung na-validate ba o hindi ang isang posting,” Nieto said in a video presented during the forum.

He also asked if this responsibility is also required of the Malacañang Press Corps(MPC), a group of accredited media practitioners who regularly cover Palace events.

“Isa po rin yan sa issue sa equal protection. Kung ano po ang karapatan o pribilehyo na ineenjoy ng MPC, dapat po ay ineenjoy din ng mga taga-Malacanang Social Media Press Corps,” Nieto said. “Otherwise, undue discrimination po iyon na as far as I know, hindi po siya constitutional.”

The blogger also saw as undue discrimination the prohibition of accredited social media publishers to commercially endorse or promote any product, service or publication, saying that mainstream media are allowed to do so.

Meanwhile, Stella Estremera, editor-in-chief of Mindanao community daily Sun.Star Davao, said the policy is well-intentioned; however, its regulatory nature is unnecessary, especially when it comes to the social media publisher’s content.

“Look, what you can control is how a blogger…will comport himself in an event,” she said, citing required dress codes in government events as example.

“But whatever ang susulatin niya, yung behaviour niya outside your event, [hindi] niyo na hawak,” she added.

Section 7C of the draft policy prohibits accredited social media publishers to post sexual content, foul language and false information, among others.

“Pero yun ang role ng blogger. Magmura para sa mga tao,” Estremera said, prompting cheers from the audience.

On the other hand, University of the Philippines Journalism professor Teresa Congjuico criticized the riskiness of using social media to disseminate news and information as social media can fall victim to “paid hacks or bots” or be used as propaganda tools.

“News reporting, fact-based story-telling, and the dissemination of vetted and fact-checked information are journalism functions which only organized newsrooms could accomplish,” Congjuico said in a Facebook status.

In PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar’s keynote speech, he said that while he acknowledged the “seasoned experience” of mainstream media in covering matters of public importance with accuracy and fairness, the policy also considers other interest groups and stakeholders in the coverage of Malacañang events.

“I have been vocal about wanting to allow social media personalities to witness and cover for themselves some of the administration’s events that would be of interest to the general public,” Andanar said.

He also said in a meeting early this month that President Rodrigo Duterte greenlit a group of bloggers’ request to access Palace events.

“With the many problems that beset the country, from illegal drugs to criminality to corruption… all forms of media are tasked to let the public know what is going on,” Andanar said.

Both Andanar and Ablan told the audience that having a social media policy is not a sole Philippine initiative.

Andanar mentioned Garrett Graff, an American blogger and former editor-in-chief of Politico magazine. Graff was the first US blogger to be accredited by the White House in 2005.

“Ang social media policy ay hindi po bago sa mundo,” Ablan said.

“Marami pong mga gobyerno, marami pong mga korporasyon, pati mga eskwelahan, ang may social media policy,” he added.

References included in the policy document come from New Zealand, United Kingdom, the US Department of Interior and the State University of New York.

The Presidential Communications assistant secretary also reiterated that the policy discussed is just an initial draft and would still be subject to changes.

According to the PCOO’s press release after the town hall forum, the office will be announcing the results of the forum and its next step. #

(Photo grabbed from Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Kristian Ablan’s Twitter account.)