Duterte supporters visit Rappler office to prove they are 'not trolls'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 22 2019 09:18 AM | Updated as of Feb 22 2019 12:57 PM

MANILA - Supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday trooped to the office of news website Rappler to prove to its chief Maria Ressa that they are "not trolls."

Trolls refer to netizens employed to attack using inflammatory statements or even fake information on social media.

Duterte supporter Mark Lopez made the visit following Ressa's tweet last week that trolls were deployed to misinform her friends and colleagues such as former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour.

Albright and Amanpour had slammed the arrest of Ressa last week over cyber libel. Ressa, whose news site has repeatedly clashed with Duterte, was arrested February 13 and freed the following day after posting a P100,000 bail bond.

Lopez, in a Facebook Live video, said he made the visit with his friend Jovybev Aquino in order to "express our outrage" at Ressa's statement.

"We can’t take that tweet. Di namin kinaya 'yan. Malaking sampal po iyan sa amin, sa atin dahil 'yung sinasabi po d'yan eh tayo daw na mga trolls lang na tumatanggap lang ng marching orders from somebody else. So we’re here to prove to Ms. Ressa that we are not trolls, that we are here to express our outrage," he said.

Lopez also carried a poster which read: "As a Filipino, I am going to hold Maria Ressa and Rappler accountable for destroying the image of my country."

Lopez and Aquino were led out of the office building by security personnel after 8 minutes.

In a statement following the protest, Rappler said it is taking seriously "the incitement to violence found in the post."

"We have been used to online attacks and lies against us by loyalists of the President. But this takes it to a new level," Rappler said.

"We have taken all precautionary measures to ensure the safety of our staff. We will be the last to question any peaceful form of protest even if, and especially if, against us. But we take seriously the incitement to violence found in the post."

The government has often been accused of sponsoring bloggers and so-called “trolls” who spread false news on the popular social media platform and attack people critical of the administration.

Malacañang has denied funding alleged online “trolls” which critics say are being used to silence and intimidate dissenters online.