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Binay turns to Facebook to fight ‘black ops’

MANILA, Philippines – The man who decried criticism of his family on social media has a new tool for fighting what he calls smear campaigns: a Facebook page.

Vice President Jejomar Binay posted on Facebook on Monday, August 11, that he created a new page on the social networking site to respond to allegations against him.

Binay called the new page “Sa Totoo Lang” (For the record) in an introductory post also written in Filipino on his profile page.

Mga kaibigan, naglabas po tayo ng Facebook page na Sa Totoo Lang dahil sa mga black propaganda at iba pang paninira ng aking mga kalaban sa pulitika. Haharapin po natin at sasagutin nang tapat ang lahat ng kanilang mga akusasyon,” he said.

(Dear friends, we launched a new Facebook page called ‘For the record’ because of the black propaganda and attacks against us by our political rivals. We will face and honestly respond to all their accusations.)

Binay asked his Facebook followers to help spread the word about the new page.

“At sana ay tulungan n’yo din ako na i-share sa inyong mga kaibigan at kapamilya ang laman ng page na ito para malaman nila ang katotohanan. Salamat po sa inyong suporta.”

(And I hope you will share the contents of this page to your friends and family that they may know the truth. Thanks for your support.)

Sa Totoo Lang” includes infographics responding to the plunder and graft complaint filed against Binay and his son, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr over the allegedly overpriced P1.56 billion ($36.05 million) “parking building” in Makati that was first constructed when he was mayor in 2007.

The Binays have denied that the structure was overpriced, saying it was not a mere parking building but housed offices of the city government.

Incidentally, the launch of the Facebook page came on the same day Senator Antonio Trillanes IV filed a resolution calling for a Senate investigation into what he called “outrageous overpricing.” Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano has also urged the Vice President to respond to the merits of the complaint instead of merely dismissing it as “politically motivated.” 

On the Facebook page, photos of the building were posted with the Vice President’s response to the issue. Here is a sample infographic: 

‘Facebook tool vs disinformation’

Sa Totoo Lang” has 788 likes as of posting time while Binay’s own Facebook page has 386,213 likes. The Vice President also maintains a Twitter account that his staff handles. It has 94,000 followers.

Binay’s spokesperson, Joey Salgado, told Rappler why the Vice President’s team decided to create a page dedicated to the accusations against him.

“Why not Facebook? It’s the most popular social media tool of Filipinos," Salgado said.

“It’s a good tool for reaching our supporters and providing them with the right information to fight the disinformation campaign against the VP. So if you notice, he asked them to share the info with family and friends.”

A former Makati mayor for over two decades, Binay has long been accused of corruption as chief executive of the country’s financial center. He and his wife, former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay, faced several graft complaints over their projects in the city.

The leader of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Binay leads surveys on the 2016 presidential elections. He has branded the cases and allegations against him as part of a “demolition campaign” ahead of the polls.

The Vice President and his family are constant subjects of criticism on social media, especially in the 2013 senatorial campaign where Binay’s eldest daughter Nancy Binay ran and won as senator. Netizens questioned her qualifications to run for office, even criticizing her skin color and lately, her fashion sense.

The Binays have often lamented the scrutiny they get on social media.

US Internet analytics company comScore has dubbed the Philippines “the social media capital of the world,” with the fastest growing Internet audience in the region in 2013. Nine out of 10 Filipino netizens are on Facebook. Still, the effect of social media on politics and elections has yet to be fully tested in the Southeast Asian nation.

Salgado said creating the new Facebook page for Binay is a logical decision two years before the election. 

“The disinformation has spread on social media so he is responding on social media.” – Rappler.com