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Cyber wimps

Regardless of where one stands on the broadcast network ABS-CBN’s bid to renew its legislative license, the congressional hearings Monday revealed an appalling unwillingness on the part of some lawmakers to take criticism, both in traditional and social media.

Cyber wimps

During the hearing, Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla said he would file a complaint at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) over what he called "cyber bullying" after he and other lawmakers were deluged by negative comments on social media over their actions during congressional hearings.

Offering no proof or evidence, the congressman said the attacks were plotted by “some ABS-CBN people.”

“I’d like to tell the committee that today, after my experience over the past 10 days of being the subject of many organized attacks on social media, I have gone to the NBI to complain about the cyber bullying to my person and to other members of the House,” he told the committees on legislative franchises and good government and public accountability.

A video that made the rounds of social media last week showed Remulla scribbling notes while the rest of his colleagues were standing at attention while the National Anthem was being played before the start of the House deliberation on the broadcast network’s franchise.

In the same hearing, Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Garin used her time to attack ABS-CBN officials for their news coverage of the Dengvaxia controversy when she was still Health secretary under the Aquino administration.

Garin, who is facing a number of court cases over the administration of the controversial anti-dengue vaccine to hundreds of thousands of children in 2016, blamed the network’s coverage for the loss of public confidence in vaccines, paving the way for the return of diseases such as measles—but did not mention the belated warning issued by Sanofi-Pasteur, the drug’s manufacturer, that Dengvaxia poses a risk to people who had not been previously exposed to dengue.

All this led Bulacan 1st District Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, chairman of the committee on good government and public accountability, to urge the public not to launch direct or personal attacks on House members involved in the franchise hearings.

“My appeal is…let’s not launch direct attacks against members of this committee, especially on social media and YouTube,” said Alvarado, who noted the barrage of online criticism on both sides of the issue.

This is a truly hair-raising proposition.

Perhaps because they are too close to the issue, lawmakers are losing touch with the essence of a functioning democracy in which elected officials are accountable to the people who put them in office.

This accountability extends to criticism and even personal attacks that go with the territory. These officials should be able to fend off or defend against such attacks as a matter of course—if their record is clean.

What these lawmakers were not elected to do is waste public funds by asking a law enforcement agency to devote time and resources to investigate online criticism every time their egos get bruised.

Public servants must serve the people, not themselves, and realize that politics is not for the faint of heart. Cyber wimps need not apply.

Topics: Cyber wimps , ABS-CBN , Jesus Crispin Remulla , National Bureau of Investigation , "cyber bullying"

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