MANILA - Rey Joseph Nieto, the blogger behind "Thinking Pinoy," defended his right to freedom of speech when he was questioned about his posts on his social media accounts and website.
During the Senate probe on fake news Wednesday, Senator Kiko Pangilinan pointed out that Nieto should be careful in his posts, especially now that he is already working for the government.
"You are now a consultant working in government. Therefore, you are also covered by the code of conduct of public workers and public officials and employees," the senator told Nieto.
The blogger, who is known for posting pro-administration opinion pieces, has been working on a consultancy basis as head of strategic communications of an office under the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Nieto was questioned by Pangilinan on his posts, "BBM vs Leni: Why LP needs to assassinate Duterte soon" and #OustDuterte: Leila, Leni, Lourdes, Loida, LP, and Plan 0117."
The "Thinking Pinoy" blogger said his work for the government does not strip him off his right to free speech and went on to explain that his page is a political opinion blog.
"Thinking Pinoy is a political opinion blog and I like imagining scenarios based on how people think would act. I try to understand human nature," he said.
Nieto was also questioned about his wacky photos in front of detained Senator Leila De Lima's office posted in his social media accounts.
"I think I am entitled to free speech and I am allowed to express my political ideas. If anybody thinks there is something objectionable about that, I think they can just write a complaint, send it to me, and we'll talk about it," he said.
The Office of De Lima took offense to these "taunting" photos, calling it "discourteous" and "unacceptable."
"Their misconduct aimed at mocking a sitting, albeit detained Senator, and her staff, is unacceptable and contemptuous, and should never be tolerated," it said in a statement.
"Freedom is not untrammelled, as it should be bound by the limits of courtesy and fair play – why add insult to the injury already inflicted on a maligned and falsely charged public servant?"
Pangilinan, for his part, told Nieto that he should observe political neutrality and the standards of personal conduct as a government worker, especially of the executive branch.
The "Thinking Pinoy" said political neutrality means serving the people equally regardless of political affiliation, and should be observed too by politicians, like the senators, themselves.
Nieto also said he is "just a consultant" in the DFA and he is not holding a "sensitive office" as claimed by Pangilinan in his interpellation earlier.
"Consultancy services are not considered government services and so I am not a public official," he said citing a Civil Service Commission resolution.
"When I broadcast stuff on my Facebook, that is Rey Joseph Nieto speaking as a regular person. But when I give advice to the Office of Migrant Workers Affairs, that's where my job kicks in," he added.
Nieto earlier said he was just earning P12,000 a month for his consultancy job at the DFA. He said the agency needs him more than he needs it because he is earning enough from blogging.