The recent events involving Mayor Junjun Binay at the Dasmariñas Village gate and assassination of a mayor at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) where a baby was collateral damage are perfect examples of how the current state of information technology can not only spread news like wildfire, but can be used and reused for or against anybody, effectively haunting one for the rest of his life… and beyond.
The Binay incident at the gate proved that with the right material you will be taken to task. Not only that, your every action caught on tape will be blown up, scrutinized in slow motion and reveal your true motives and identity with raw, unedited footage: Mayor Binay getting off his vehicle to confront lowly security guards, Binay’s armed guards supporting him, his umbrella man shielding him from the elements (or lack of), his sister the Senator also getting off her vehicle, heavily armed policemen responding in Binay’s favor….
Later, Senator Nancy Binay stated that the reports of the Dasma gate incident were “malicious” and had been settled amicably later and it was basically much ado about nothing. But as I posted in Facebook about that statement: She doesn’t get it. It is in the collective memory of the internet. Captured, stored and to be retrieved time and again. Politicians and attention hungry celebrities beware. The world is watching. What is posted of you now will haunt you forever.
Almost as instantly as the Binay video and story spread the netizens’ archives flowed with contrasting stories:
- Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista sans bodyguards receiving a traffic ticket for running a red light in 2011. Bautista promoted the traffic enforcer;
- Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte ticketed for riding his motocycle without a helmet in 2009. The mator’s license was confiscated and was to be redeemed only after paying a fine and attending a drivers’ seminar;
- Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III denied access to the Palace of Justice because only court employees are allowed access before 8:00 AM in July this year. Davide told the guard he would just come back and had breakfast in the canteen.
All these were quickly accessible by Google, just as fast as finding out that Senator Vicente Sotto’s speech before the chamber and businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan’s Ateneo commencement speech were plagiarized – whether intentionally or unintentionally, wittingly or unwittingly.
The veracity of harsh reality captured on video is the same with the Mar Roxas – Alfred Romualdez meeting in Tacloban post typhoon Yolanda/ Haiyan. In the past one can hide behind the clarity of words of a written transcript. Nowadays, you see the whole picture with vocal inflections, facial expressions, gestures and body language to clearly spell where one is coming from. Yes, the transcript Roxas used to defend his position was quite clear in his defense in his press conference. Further, the 18-second edited version of the meeting can leave room for doubt either for Roxas’ or Romualdez’s side. But the video’s 42 minute, 55 second version told all.
If a picture paints a thousand words, then that video that has 30 frames per second has enough for 77,250 words. A lot can – and was – said.
Of course, what could have been clearer on video than his diabolical laugh in his subsequent TV interview when he said he would ask Romualdez if he had already undergone stress debriefing.
And while the shooting Mayor Ukol Talumpa of the southern town of Labangan, his wife, his 18-month-old grandson and a male aide was indeed tragic, the greater tragedy lies in the fact that the country’s premier gateway to the world had no Closed Circuit television (CCTV), especially at this day and age when even small sari-sari (neighborhood variety) stores have CCTV cameras. CCTV footage from these and other places like malls, private subdivisions and street monitoring have become usual fare for TV and internet news.
So why no CCTV? Again, the stories have been told in the past, archived on the net. Reported the Philippine Star last October: MANILA, Philippines – Two security officials at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have resigned, reportedly following conflicts with Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Jose Honrado over the bidding for a closed-circuit television (CCTV) system. Salvador Peñaflor, assistant general manager for security and emergency handed in his letter of irrevocable resignation on Oct. 4, effective the same day. He joined the MIAA in 2010.
Airport police chief Alger Tan resigned on Aug. 5, according to Peñaflor.
Peñaflor told The STAR that he resigned over “so many issues,” among them the bidding for the CCTV system. “The CCTV system should have been bought and installed long ago, but Honrado suspended the bidding, saying he received information that somebody from the technical evaluation committee leaked the terms of reference to the bidders,” he said.
And even beyond that, it even goes back to our favorite Mar Roxas, whose stint as Secretary of Transportation and Communications gave a very clear promise after the Claudine Barreto – Ramon Tulfo airport altercation was not captured by official security videos but just cellphone videos by other passengers.
One of the most common advise we give clients who have been subject of negative publicity in newspapers and magazines is to set the record straight with a finely crafted letter to the editor. The idea is, even if people rarely read letters to the editor it still needs to be put on record, registered and kept in the publication’s archives so that the record is straight. Publications are part of historical record so it serves a purpose for future generations who will research and read about you.
But the internet is different. The more that you can steer clear from it, the better. But that is near impossible. The best way is to find a way to make sure that your side is floating out there in cyberspace and easily accessible in the future whenever the old and miserable takes pop up.
Indeed a few years back an email made the rounds of a Filipina OFW being raped in the toilet of an international airline. Some who received the email asked around if the news was true, while others just went about ranting and raving against the airline. More responsible ones however simply checked with the website snopes.com which had marked and discredited that email as a hoax five years earlier.
That is good. But honestly, how many actually check up first with snopes.com or even Google?
In our business we have tools for internet and social media analytics and tricks up our sleeves for internet reputation management and search engine optimization (SEO). But true brand, image and reputation protection management has to come from within one’s character. It means promises made are promises kept. It also means that craving for attention can have greater consequences and being aware that someone, somewhere is watching and recording.
In one movie a brothel madame said to her persecutor: “Don’t spit in the wind, it’ll end up all over your face.”
In another movie, it was said: “Be afraid… be VERY afraid.”