2022 Philippine Elections

Facebook threat against Robredo sparks outrage in Negros Occidental

Inday Espina-Varona, Mara Cepeda
Facebook threat against Robredo sparks outrage in Negros Occidental
Negros Occidental Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer, a Marcos supporter, warned followers of the presidential aspirant against hurling threats or doing any harmful act against Vice President Leni Robredo and her followers

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – A Facebook user who threatened Vice President and presidential candidate Leni Robredo on the eve of her Friday, March 11, grand rally in this city has sparked outrage and a police investigation, even as her supporters here vowed not to let fear tactics affect the much-awaited event. 

The Facebook post, who used the name Balbal Binalbagan Shout-out, posted Thursday night, March 10, said it was ready to avenge the offense against Ferdinand Marcos Jr.during the former senator’s February 23 visit in this city. It referenced the heckling and alleged hurling of paper flyers at the son of the dictator and presidential aspirant.

The choice of retribution could do great damage to a person. Robredo was already in Bacolod City when the Facebook user made the threat to harm her.

Facebook threat against Robredo sparks outrage in Negros Occidental

Netizens have traced the owner of the threatening post to a young man who operated other similar accounts. Rappler is not using the name linked to the account where the post came from, or his photos, because there is no independent verification of authenticity. 

Balbal Binalbagan Shout-out followed up with another post that asked if fellow Marcos supporters were ready with their materials for Leni, using the Ilonggo language. 

The threat came just days after Robredo supporters, who call their group collectively as Kakampinks, staged a mammoth rally in Cavite province for the lone female presidential candidate. Participants in the rally were later red-tagged by no less than their own congressman, Cavite 7th District Representative Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, and Senator Panfilo Lacson, another presidential contender.

Robredo already said the attacks of Remulla and Lacson were an “insult” to Caviteños, many of whom spent their own money to organize and join in their political activity.

Possible ‘escalation’

Robredo’s spokesman Barry Gutierrez in a statement said: “While she and her family have received threats before, we are concerned that in the context of the heightened passions of the electoral campaign, that this might be an escalation.”

“VP Leni’s security team, as well as the campaign, are taking this seriously and are implementing appropriate measures to ensure her continued safety, and that of her family, staff and supporters,” he added.

Negros Occidental Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer, on learning of the threat, warned supporters of Marcos Jr against issuing any threat or doing any harmful  act against Vice President Leni Robredo and her followers.

“Hurling threats is a crime, period, ” Ferrer said in a telephone interview with Rappler.

“Ako guid ang inyo kontra,” said the vice governor, who is campaigning for Marcos Jr.  (I will be your enemy.) “That is not a joke.” 

Police in Negros Occidental have been told of the threat. Rappler will update once the local PNP gives developments.

Neitzens have reported the offending Facebook user but his page – and threatening post – remain up.

He later claimed in a new post just before 9 pm that he was based in Singapore. His profile states that he studied in Dumaguete but misspells the name of the college.

In a briefing of volunteers on Wednesday, March 9, the security head of the organizers said over 170 police officers have been deployed by the provincial and city police offices. The number does not include plainclothes cops assigned by the province, organizers said. 

The grand rally of Robredo and her running-mate Kiko Pangilinan will be at the Paglaum sports complex, a sprawling two-hectare venue in the heart of the city.

Pinky Ocampo, spokesperson of the Laban Leni Negros Occidental (LLNO), the all-volunteer network and event organizer, said the complex can host 35,000 persons.

But the network has received permission to close two major roads around the complex, Hernaez and Lacson streets starting from 8 am. Six big LED screens on these roads will allow the spillover crowd to participate with the program inside the sports complex.

‘Keep it civil’

Ferrer said Robredo has every right to be heard by Negrenses as did Marcos.

Governor Eugenio “Bong” Lacson and Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer flash the signs of their rival presidential bets even as they urge Negrenses to respect each other’s choices at a press briefing on March 4. (Ronnie Baldonado)

Ferrer and Governor Eugenio “Bong” Lacson, who is a supporter of Robredo, have gone out of their way to ask Negrenses to keep political campaigns civil and peaceful in the province.

At a joint press conference last week, Lacson reminded Negrenses that after the noise of national politics dies down, Negrenses will still have to live with each other 24/7. 

Both asked their supporters to vote for the other as they belong to one local coalition.

Ferrer also told Marcos supporters to avoid verbally attacking Robredo supporters and said followers of the rival presidential candidates should have fun campaigning for their May 2022 bets but should avoid provoking each other. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.