Sponsored Text Messages Allegedly From GraceChiz Spreads (UPDATED)

Tim Tayag and a journalist friend on Facebook received what appears to be a sponsored text message from a telco service provider — the kind that usually alerts you to promos or gives you service notifications.

tim tayag illegal campaigningUnlike text blast messages, sponsored text messages don’t display the cellphone number of the receiver. What you get with a sponsored text message is a name, like what usually happens when someone in your phonebook texts or calls you.

The message received by Tim Tayag was made to LOOK LIKE it came from GraceChiz, an obvious reference to Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero who are — at least in a few surveys — the leading contenders for the presidency and vice presidency respectively.

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The message reads, “Hindi niyo dapat ipagmalaki ang mga call-center, dahil puro sakit at bisyo lang ang naidulot nito sa bayan. Sayang ang pinag-aralan ng kabataan. Grace at Chiz para sa tunay na kaunlaran.”

Thing is, this may actually a very sly bit of election black propaganda which intends to do a number of things:

  1. Make it appear that Poe and Escudero contracted the services of a telco to send the text messages and such a service could be described as some form of electoral campaign advertising which some say could be illegal outside this point because the official campaign period is still next year.
  2. The message alludes to Mar Roxas (who is claimed to be the father of the BPO industry) and intends to anger people working in the BPO industry — describing the BPO working environment as vice ridden and unhealthy as well as a poor use of the talents of educated Filipino youth.

This text message, I assume, made its rounds today as news of another disqualification case was filed against Poe at the Comelec.

In his 14-page petition, Antonio Contreras, a political science professor at De La Salle University, asked the Comelec to cancel the certificate of candidacy (COC) for President that Poe filed on Oct. 15.

Unlike the first two petitions brought by former Department of Justice Prosecutor Estrella Elamparo on Oct. 16 and by former Sen. Francisco Tatad on Monday, Contreras’ petition does not tackle the question of Poe’s citizenship, but only her supposed failure to meet the 10-year residency required of presidential candidates.

Full Story Here

It may be that these two things are completely unrelated, but both seem to put across the same message and it is that Poe is “illegal” or “illegitimate” — an attempt to eat away at her credibility as a candidate.

I have to admit, if this were a messaging campaign, I would be thoroughly impressed with its execution — quite sophisticated actually.

Something, perhaps, that one could expect from techie lawyer Atty. Yves Gonzlaes whom I heard has joined Roxas’ campaign team. If you don’t remember who Yves is, well, let me remind you about that Twitter account PCOS Machine and also point out that he was the guy behind MMDA’s traffic app.

(Note: Yves Gonzales aka @doblezeta on Twitter told me that he is not with the Mar-Leni campaign team and that he is not in anyway part of the SMS black ops.)

But of course, Yves isn’t the only sly and sophisticated operator in Mar’s camp because there is also Caloocan Congressman Egay Erice.

Back in September, there was this big buzz about Grace Poe allegedly responding to a text message from Erice saying, “May I ask who is this?”.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 6.42.33 PM.png

Here are a few things to note about the story:

  1. The picture of the phone screen belongs to Erice, not Grace Poe and this means that it was Erice’s side the released the story.
  2. The way the story is headlined appears to convey that Poe doesn’t know who Erice is and tends to portray Poe as such a political neophyte that she doesn’t know who is who in the world of Philippine politics.
  3. Erice apparently first attempts to dispel any notion that he is behind the black propaganda against Poe by saying, ““Sen. Grace ma’am. May I respectfully seek an audience so I can personally assure you that I am not part of those who question your being a Filipino, as being maliciously peddled in the social media.” (But why is it that I have a tendency to believe that when politicians say something, the opposite of that statement is truer?)
  4. The kicker in Erice’s message is this line, “I am sorry but it is my opinion that you are not yet ready for the presidency but I will respect whatever will be your opinion and decisions. After all we are accountable for whatever we say or do as public officials.”

I am not saying that either Gonzales or Erice were behind the text message from GraceChiz. Not at all!

Nevertheless, I sent a screen cap of Tim Tayag’s status update to Comelec spokesman James Jimenez via Twitter and he promised to look into it with the help of the NTC.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 6.55.28 PM.png

Interesting… very interesting indeed!

11 Replies to “Sponsored Text Messages Allegedly From GraceChiz Spreads (UPDATED)”

  1. It is not interesting…it is Boring. The political zarzelas have began.

    All the major issues and problems of the country are set aside. These idiots want to win , whether, by hook, or by crook…

  2. At least with this kind of sponsored text, you will know who not to vote for on 2016.

    People should start to consider what is at stake here, a job which offers a very low wage. Consider the cost they incur just to be elected. Granted it may not be from their own pockets, then it must be favors (donations) from individuals, who on one way or another may (will) benefit from the winning candidate. That for me is the start of the ruination of whatever platform the candidate has as he needs to repay his “ütang na loob”.

    The candidates’ financial resources should not play a major role in the election. Cost should be limited to bare minimum and monitored strictly by comelec. Why not just post the resumes (the contents should be validated by comelec) of the candidates in a few selected locations for a limited number of days. No more “advertisment paid by the friends and supporters of..”. No more one broadsheet page of their dumb faces on my newspapaer. No irritating jingles on the radio and idiotic tv commercials. No noisy motorcades with popular actors and actresses. No billboards, banners, flyers and leaflets which make our roads dirty. Televised debates should be a must using the world language. Violators should be disqualified swiftly.

    And finally, non winners should be obliged to support the winning candidate. Failure to do so should disqualify him for running in the next election.

    But hey, its da pinas, time for me to wake-up.

  3. Paul,
    I think you have it the other way around. A text blast from a “textblaster” machine (hardware) or “portable cell site” or whatever you want to call it will put as sender any name it wants to in alpha numeric characters. I’ve seen one and was given a demo of how it works and it simply types the name of sender or a series of numbers and that’s what will appear as the sender. They are sent to all cell phones within a certain radius (2km)without passing through a telco provider’s cell site.They are unpaid text messages but the machine is rather costly but useful specially for disaster mitigation. It does not rely on a functioning telco site or power that are usually down after a storm or earthquake etc. cheers!

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