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Jolo Revilla’s online goof-up

“Blaming an office intern is a flimsy excuse.

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Public statements posted by traditional politicians in the social media are generally ignored by the public. Because hardly anybody pays attention to those worthless announcements, those trad-pols end up wasting time, effort, and public money.

Since these traditional politicians only want publicity, there is good reason to suspect that they don’t bother to read what is posted online on their behalf, as long as the posts generate free publicity for them.

Those posts are made each time there is an occasion to exploit for publicity purposes, such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Independence Day and the like. They are not meant to mark the occasion, but are designed to get voters to remember the politicians’ names, especially when the election season is near.

Cavite Vice Governor Jolo Revilla, a member of the well-entrenched Revilla political dynasty, recently gave people the reason to believe that traditional politicians do not bother to read what they allow to be posted online in their name.

It’s about the celebration of an important milestone in Philippine history.

On 27 April 2021, the Philippines marked the 500th anniversary of the historic Battle of Mactan. Appropriate commemorative ceremonies were held in Cebu to celebrate the famous battle where Filipino warriors led by local chieftain Lapu-Lapu defeated an invasion force of Spanish soldiers led by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.

That Lapu-Lapu killed Magellan in that battle, and the ensuing victory against the Spaniards, are undisputed in the historical record. Thus, Lapu-Lapu is regarded as the first documented Filipino hero.

Possibly sensing that the occasion was very likely to draw a lot of public attention and curiosity online, Revilla’s office personnel took the opportunity to get free publicity for their boss by posting on the vice governor’s Facebook account his high praises for “one of the Philippines’ first heroes.”

That publicity gimmick, however, proved to be an embarrassing goof-up for Revilla. It turned out that the “Filipino hero” Revilla praised in his post was Magellan, and not Lapu-Lapu.

Revilla actually paid an online tribute to Magellan on an occasion when Lapu-Lapu should be the main man!
Netizens who saw the post complained and, as expected, Revilla’s clumsy online post earned him public scorn and ridicule. The public was not only upset about Revilla’s reckless post; they were shocked that a top official of Cavite, a province known for its valiant role in the Philippine revolution against Spain, could confuse a colonial invader like Magellan for a Filipino hero like Lapu-Lapu.

Revilla eventually apologized for insulting the memory of Lapu-Lapu and publicly blamed an office assistant for the negligent act. He said, “An intern in our social media team posted the caption to our meme without first clearing it.”

What does Revilla mean by “without first clearing it?” That lame and vague excuse sounds more like a tacit admission by Revilla that he does not read what his office personnel post in his Facebook account.

It also suggests that henceforth, the general public should be discerning and suspicious about the veracity of anything posted online in Revilla’s name.

At the very least, Revilla should have exercised due diligence in the selection and supervision of who among his minions should be in charge of making social media posts on his behalf. It will not hurt if Revilla reads his publicity materials before they are posted online.

Blaming an office intern is a flimsy excuse. An office intern always works under the supervision of a regular employee of the office, and the intern’s output is always subject to review by his supervisor. Thus, the fact that the pro-Magellan post even came out is already an indication of gross negligence.

The lesson to be learned here is that public officials who use the social media should make sure that they know for a fact whatever is posted online on their behalf.

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