Rody: I don’t need online trolls, defenders

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - July 25, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - Reacting to an Oxford University study that suggested around P10 million was spent for trolls to promote his messages and harass critics, President Duterte yesterday said he neither needed defenders nor cared if his approval ratings went down.

The President stressed that he does not need to enhance his popularity because he is not eligible for reelection anyway.

“Perhaps during the elections… and they were all during the campaign.  But I do not need that now,” Duterte said when asked to react to the study in a press briefing on Monday.

According to the study, about 400 to 500 cyber troops were hired to harass those who disagree with Duterte and to post messages supportive of the government. 

Fake accounts were supposedly used in the Philippines to spread propaganda and false news and to create “an artificial sense of popularity, momentum or relevance.”

Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), a social media manager, volunteer groups and paid citizens form part of this online army, the study said. 

But the PDP-Laban, through information officer Ronwald Munsayac, denied hiring or using online trolls.

During the briefing, Duterte said: “You know, I do not need to defend myself from attacks. I’ve stated my piece during my inauguration and during the campaign.”

“I really don’t care if my ratings go up or down. That is not a significance to me. I cannot run anymore. I will just do what is best for my country. And I do not hunger for ratings. I do not even look at it. And I do not comment on it,” he added. 

He admitted though that he has online supporters, including blogger turned Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.

“I have followers…One of them is Mocha. But Mocha has been with me during the campaign. She offered her services free. Now that I won, out of gratitude…I appointed her as social media secretary,” the President said.  

Duterte defended Uson from critics who claimed that she is not fit for the post because of her stint as sexy dancer and sex adviser. 

“Cannot a lowly dancer in this Republic, in this country, aspire to be somebody someday? She knows how to speak English. Her English is not broken. And she deals with everybody. She is a friend of the military and a friend of all. Why should I not hire her?” he said. 

Duterte claimed he did not pay anyone to write positive things about him. He said he is ready to step down if anyone proves that he offered money to enhance his image. 

While claiming to be indifferent to perceptions about his image, Duterte had harsh words for the university that commissioned the study. 

“Oxford University? Eskuwelahan sa mga bobo ‘yan (That’s a school for the dumb),” Duterte said. 

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