I feel a bit disappointed with some people when I find them believing anything or everything told to them about another person who is supposedly accused of some wrongdoing or has generally been portrayed as a target of “righteous” indignation.
Chismis or rumor is stereo-typically spun and circulated in coffee shops, barbershops, beauty salons, and the street corner sari-sari store. Rumor is formally defined as talk or opinion widely disseminated with no discernible source; or a statement or report current without known authority for its truth.
These days, one would consider it anachronistic to have to actually go to an actual physical place to “scoop up” the latest rumor.
The hip and “IN” thing these days (or has been for quite some time now) is to just fish out your smartphone, open your preferred social media app, and perhaps, if you have enough rumormongers in your social circle, you’ll get a flood of rumor as you scroll down your screen.
There are a number of reasons why people listen to and spread rumors. It can be that they feel it:
- gives them a sense of superiority
- gives them a sense of being part of a group
- allows them to get attention
- gives them control or power
- allows them to wreak vengeance
- relieves their boredom
Sometimes, rumor mongers resort to some subterfuge, prefacing the telling of their rumor by claiming it’s for the good of another person or the community. What gets me gagging, when I come across it sometimes, is when I find out that certain people are spreading rumors using the promotion some kind of social good as a pretext — like saving the environment, good governance, an end to corruption, championing the poor or the overburdened taxpayer. It annoys me but causes me no real worry as any pretensions of sincerely promoting a cause will get outed sooner or later.
What social media probably added as some sort of enhancement to spreading rumor is that, for a fee, you can advertise it on Facebook or have it tweeted/re-tweeted. What this does is that, instead of being limited to just your circle of friends, you can have your status update or tweet exposed to millions of people.
As far as I know, Facebook has a pretty liberal approach when it comes to what it allows to be advertised and you can pretty much buy a dozen or so tweets from certain celebrities who either don’t care about truthfulness or can’t discern between fact and fiction.
Now, it’s one thing to chance upon a rumor and a completely different thing to deliberately spread it for one reason or many reason$. For the regular folks, it engaging in rumor mongering may be a sinful pleasure, but for professional journalists and their self-styled self-publishing counterparts, it is can amount to a serious breach of ethics and standards.
In the case of the so-called P10 Billion Pork Barrel Scam, riding under the latest undulation of the Chito Neri Sex Video Scandal wave were two blogs Mom and Pop Moments and Dulz Speaks which supposedly carried revealing information about those accused in the latest corruption debacle.
A post by Noemi Lardizabal Dado on the Philippine Online Chronicle (an online publication I wrote two articles in) seems to give undue credence to someone who anonymously left a comment on Mom and Pops moment.
In her post, Dado says, “This particular blog instigated almost 700 comments as of this writing, the most controversial of which was from a “Mr. Anonymous” who shared information on the Napoles family’s ties with the public officials involved in the scam. He also revealed the name of those in the payroll, provided details on bank transactions and even shed light on the strategies used by the Napoles family in moving the money. Mr. Anonymous was clear in his lengthy revelations. The senators and congressman use the Napoles company (and others for sure) “to steal money from the people’s coffer – from you, from us”—his very words.”
The thing is, I had expected Dado (being the Editor of Blog Watch and features editor of Philippine Online Chronicles) would at least have devoted a few paragraphs to show that she had scrutinized Mr. Anonymous’ claims before passing it off. I do remember the many times in the past that Dado had called for “responsible and ethical” blogging, but now, it seems to be that probably what she had in mind and what I had in mind were vastly different.
There are a number of problems with giving credence to people who anonymously leave comments and then passing off or re-posting such comments without some effort at testing its credibility. The first problem is that the claims contained in an anonymous comment may not only be dubious, but could be just plain false and could unduly hurt peoples’ reputations.
For example, one of the comments left by Mr. Anonymous regarding an interview conducted by Korina Sanchez with Janet Lim Napoles. In the comment, Mr. Anonymous appears to be questioning the credibility of Sanchez and accusing current DILG Secretary Mar Roxas of some involvement in the Pork Barrel Scam.
I saw an interview of janet, jimmy and two of their children, jo-christine and his younger brother. The interview was conducted by Korina Sanchez. I was amazed how Korina played on the set and in a very sublime manner, projected the Napoles family as a victim.
Let me explain.
Korina is married to Mar Roxas. Mar is from Iloilo and he has a cousin, Johnny Roxas. Johnny stands 6’2, fair, brown hair and brown eyes. Johnny is a good looking male and a mestizo. Johnny used to work at JLN Corp. and he used his connections through Mar when he was still “Mr. Palengke.” Johnny earned significant amount of money by closing deals and getting the SARO of some congressmen and mayors and governors with the help of Mar. But Johnny had a fallout with Janet when some some cash commissions were not equally divided to him. He was also hoping to have a Mercedes Benz as a incentive from one of his successful transactions from a congressman based in Samar, bur Janet failed to deliver the car to him. Johnny soon left the company upset. Nevertheless, Johnny left JLN with few million pesos richer, and Mar Roxas a few million above 10M richer. Johnny Roxas became visible again in the political arena when he joined the campaign camp of Fernando Poe Jr. He was always visible on TV appearances and newspaper photos sitting or standing beside or behind Poe. With this said, Mar Roxas has ties with Napoles and that explains the interview with Korina that appears to be biased with the Napoles’. And you now know the reason why.
In response to Mr. Anonymous comment, another person going by the handle M230 said:
Mar Roxas does not have a cousin named Johnny Roxas. He only has 1 cousin and Johnny is not the name.
The Araneta-Roxas clan is worth so much more money, what is 10 million pesos to them? Magnanakaw ka na lang, bakit yang kakapiranggot pa na hindi man lang mararamdaman ni Mar. Magkano ba kinikita nila sa Araneta Center pa lang, sa Pizza Hut, sa Dairy Queen, sa Cibo, Cafe Bola, Sachi?
I believe there was a scam, but I don’t think you should drag other people in this controversy. If you really do know so much stuff, why not be an anonymous source for the NBI?
Thing is, M230’s reply seems to have rendered Mr. Anonymous claims a bit dubious and should make people wonder if there is, at all, a person named “Johnny Roxas”.
Further comments by Mr. Anonymous tend to make me doubt him even more, like for instance:
– Mr. Anonymous has his game show hosts mixed with the clowns in the senate. “The Revillames and Estradas are already preparing their speeches should this issue reach the senate.” (Last time I checked, there is NO senator Revillame. There is a Senator Bong Revilla, though.)
– It seems Mr. Anonymous has his timeline mixed up. “The explosions in the ayala properties were no coincidence. They used it as a platform to divert the attention of the masses so that local media will cover the explosion news instead of corruption expose’ involving key individuals from the congress and senate during those times.” ( The Glorietta Blast happened in 2007 and the Serendra Blast happened on May 31, 2013. The Philippine Daily Inquirer broke its series of stories on the Pork Barrel Scam on July 12, 2013. Moreover, there is no dearth of one kind of explosion or another in this country, like for instance the Chito Neri Scandal or the CDO blast. Saying that one or the other is a diversionary tactic aimed at covering up the investigation into the Pork Barrel Scam is ludicrous, more so if it refers to the Chito Miranda Sex Video.)
-Now here’s a patently outrageous claim, first Mr. Anonymous says this: “People in the internet challenges me if i have proof. No i do not. But i can tell you that there are two metal safes inside JLN Corp.’s office at 2502 Discovery Suites in ortigas. One safe is inside Jimmy Napoles’ office and the other one is in Janet’s office.” And then, rather conveniently hedges this claim by saying, “If by any chance that this blog has reached the Napoles family, they will move these safes and drawers outside their office ASAP. ” (Really? If that’s true, then perhaps it’s also true that Michael Jackson was really still alive when they brought him to the hospital but killed him again because his record sales shot up.)
I am certain may be other comments by Mr. Anonymous that really deserves some manner of scrutiny before you decide on clicking “share”.
As for how one should treat anonymous comments or anonymous sources, it is best to keep in mind that any body can publish or say any number of things on the internet and finding out the truth or falsehood of a claim should be the writer’s first concern. For a good guide on how to treat anonymous sources, whether you are a blogger or journalist, it is best to keep referring back to Reuters’ guidelines or any professional news organization guidelines on the matter.
Making a huge mistake in this will probably make you more of a professional rumormonger than a credible blogger or journalist.
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