MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian defended his outburst on Twitter following intense flak he received from netizens. (READ: Netizens slam Sherwin Gatchalian over 'Ulol, Gago' tweets)
Gatchalian said he was just human and he, too, had a tipping point.
“I'm also human like everyone else. I have a breaking point. I can tolerate insults and criticisms pero may hangganan din ako (but I also have my limits),” Gatchalian told Rappler in a text message.
Gatchalian also said those who criticized him were “trolls” who have been “provoking” him for so long now.
“First, these are trolls. They have been provoking me since before the campaign. They're designed to demean you to bring out the worst in a person,” Gatchalian said.
On New Year's Eve, December 31, Gatchalian responded to Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa's article post about the Liberal Party by saying: “The nation already lost its soul in the last 6 years."
Some Twitter users quickly reminded Gatchalian of his tweets in the previous years supporting the Aquino administration. They slammed him for being "balimbing" (political turncoat) and a "trapo" (traditional politician).
The tweets irked Gatchalian who replied "Gago ka! (You're stupid)" and "Ulol (deranged)". He also asked a netizen who posted screenshots of his tweets what year it was posted, "Gago! Anong year yan? (Stupid! What year was that?)"
Gatchalian, in an earlier message to Rappler, said he got pissed from some Twitter users who kept criticizing him.
“Daming nang-iinis eh. (There were a lot of annoying [people])," he told Rappler when he was earlier asked what caused his meltdown.
Gatchalian found an ally in one of his friends in the Senate, Senator JV Ejercito, who said the incident showed that public servants were also human.
"[T]he incident involving my co-seatmate Senator @stgatchalian goes to show that we are also human, we get hurt and affected too," the senator tweeted.
Ejercito added that not being able to reply to "bashing and attacks from rabid haters" suggests that they have become political robots.
Some netizens, however, refuted this and reminded them that they are still public servants and should "know how to behave in the public sphere."
Among those who reacted was multi-awarded and internationally-acclaimed stage actress Lea Salonga, who Tweeted: "Let’s keep all discourses respectful, even when our opinions are contrary to someone else’s. "
Salonga said: "Let this be a reminder to celebs, politicos, etc. on social media, only one degree of separation from everyone else. You’re fair game the moment you open an account, and it can really test your patience and resolve." – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org