MANILA, Philippines (The Adobo Chronicles, Manila Bureau) – Journalists from major print and broadcast news outlets in the Philippines will stage a picket in front of The Philippine Star offices in Mandaluyong City to protest the new designation given to controversial entertainer-turned-political blogger Mocha Uson.
The Star has just announced that it will run a regular weekly column by Uson — not in the entertainment section — but in the daily newspaper’s op-ed section. That practically gives Uson the status of journalist.
Since campaigning for the presidential bid of then Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Uson has gained tremendous popularity as a political blogger. She has more followers and reader engagement that established news outlets like the Inquirer, Rappler, ABS-CBN and GMA-7. She makes no secret about her all-out support for the new Philippine president.
Uson scored a one-on-one interview with Duterte shortly after his election, and another with Nur Misuari, founder and leader of the rebel group, Moro National Liberation Front — opportunities not afforded the legitimate news outlets.
In recent weeks, an online petition requesting Facebook to shut down Uson’s blog gathered over 30,000 signatures. Ironically, a counter-petition in support of Uson generated more signatures, close to 35,000.
Online news Rappler’s CEO Maria Ressa also posted a series of op-ed pieces critical of Uson and Facebook’s algorithm, stating that it was “time to take back the Internet and Social Media.”
In a joint statement issued by the major news outlets, it was announced that all their newsroom staff will leave their offices and cubicles starting today and will not cover any news events. Instead they will stage daily pickets in front of the Philippine Star offices and will continue to do so until Uson’s column is scrapped.
“We apologize in advance to the Filipino people for the news blackout that this will create, but we need to fight for our pride, dignity and unique talents and expertise as true journalists. We need to take back the news from Uson,” the statement said.