In the world of social media, the name of Filipino blogger Drew Olivar has lately became infamous for his involvement in videos posted by Presidential Communications Operations Office Asec. Margaux Mocha Uson that has been criticized by various personalities and groups.
Even before his association with Uson, Olivar has already made a name for himself in social media for posting viral videos as far back as 2015. Then known as Boy Landi, he gained a thousand of social media followers through his posts, which varied from commentaries to performances.
On 2017, Olivar grew to become one of the prominent supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte in social media due to his large number of followers. In his latest videos, the blogger would voice his support to the current Administration and defend its officials, including Uson, from various criticisms thrown at them. Olivar would also assail the detractors of the Duterte Administration, particularly Vice-President Leni Robredo, opposition lawmakers, members of the Aquino family and even priests.
On July 20, 2018, Olivar made his first appearance in a live video with Uson. The assistant secretary arranged the Facebook live show for the Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23. Uson introduced Oliver as another ‘social media influencer’. Aside from Uson and Olivar, Atty. Trixie Cruz – Angeles was also invited as a guest. In the video, Olivar would speak about his observations on how the Philippines improved under the Duterte Administration. Following their July 20 video, Olivar would continue to become the co-host of Uson in other live videos.
THE RECENT CONTROVERSIES THAT ASSAILED THE BLOGGER
- PEPEDEDERALISMO DANCE
On August, various lawmakers, from both sides of the opposition and the administration, criticized Uson after a clip of her Facebook live show “Good News Game Show” went viral in social media. The said clip showed Olivar, who is Uson’s co-host for the show, chanting ‘I-Pepe, I-dede, I-pederalismo’ while pointing to his genitals and chest.
In the Filipino language, “pepe” tends to mean a woman’s vagina while “dede” commonly means a woman’s breast.
Officials were more upset with Uson, rather than Olivar, for the said clip since she was encouraging her co-host while he did the dance and since there have been reports that the Presidential Consultative Committee plans to acquire her services for the information campaign regarding the plan to shift the government system from Presidential to Federalism.
In response to the criticisms they received due to the video, Uson and Olivar would each defend the video in their social media accounts. Olivar would even hit back against his critics for only noticing his dance and not the information regarding Federalism that they shared. The blogger would also insist that he was not paid to appear in the video.
- SIGN LANGUAGE VIDEO
More than a month after the Pepederalismo video, Uson and Olivar would once again receive flak for another controversial video. In a video uploaded by Uson on September 13, she urged Olivar to do sign language. the blogger complied with the request and made some gestures. While doing so, Olivar can be heard making sounds and can be seen making faces. When Olivar finished, Uson said that he was like a monkey.
Among the personalities that got upset due to the video is Sen. Nancy Binay, author of the Filipino Sign Language Bill or Senate Bill No. 1455. In a statement on September 17, Binay said that video of Uson and Olivar ‘is disrespectful to the sizeable deaf and mute communities who already struggle in airing their concerns and aspirations’.
“Such discriminatory actions set back our efforts to make our society more inclusive by providing a more conducive environment for deaf Filipinos to exercise their right to expression without prejudice,” Binay said in a statement.
“Sign language should never be made an amusement piece,” the senator added.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers Patylist Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro also condemned the actions of the two and called for the government to hold Uson and Olivar accountable. Both Castro and Tinio were the authors of House Bill No. 7503, also known as the Filipino Sign Language Act.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) also reacted to the video and criticized the behavior shown by Uson and Olivar calling it ‘extremely degrading, derogatory, and further perpetuates discrimination of the vulnerable deaf people’.
According to the CHR, sign language ‘ is a fundamental human right of the deaf community and a key part of their higher right to self-determination’.
“Making a mockery of this right is an attack on their dignity and makes them even more vulnerable in our society where only a few understand their mode of communication,” CHR said in a statement.
The University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman College of Education Student Council and the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde also issued statements in response to the video and would also join the call for Uson and Olivar to be held sanctioned for their actions.
After the video went viral, Olivar and Uson would each issue separate apologies.
Thru a Facebook live video on September 17, Olivar would apologize to persons with disabilities, particularly the deaf community, hurt by the video. He would say that his actions were insensitive and childish.
“Ibinababa ko iyong sarili ko, nagpapakumbaba at, alam ko mahirap, pero alam kong mali ako, alam kong mali ako. Hindi ako magri-reason out. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Olivar said in the video
On September 20, the Philippine Federation of the Deaf filed charges against Uson and Olivar at the Office of the Ombudsman. The group accused the two of allegedly violating Republic Act 9422, which amended Republic Act 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, that states ‘no individual, group, or community shall execute any acts of ridicule against persons with additional needs in any time and place which could intimidate or result in loss of self-esteem of the latter’.
- WARNING THE PUBLIC OF A REPEAT OF THE PLAZA MIRANDA BOMBING
With the sign language video still fresh in the minds of the public, Olivar will get entangled into another issue after posting a warning at his Facebook account on September 20 regarding a possible bombing that could happen in the Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue, where demonstrators were expected to gather on September 21 to commemorate the start of the 1972 Martial Law.
“Ayyy, nakakatakot naman magrally sa Edsa, kasi may kumakalat na baka maulit daw yung pagbomba kagaya ng Plaza Miranda!! Kung ako sa inyo hindi ako pupunta,” Olivar said in his Facebook post.
After receiving criticism, Olivar would defend his post saying that it was not a bomb scare but he was just showing concern.
Olivar would later apologize for the alarm caused by his post during a press conference in the headquarters of the National National Capital Region Police Office. He was accompanied by Uson. The blogger claimed that he had no intention of inciting fear thru his post.
“I have no intention to incite fear among the Filipinos, especially that the rallies yesterday were not just attended by the yellows but also DDS,” Olivar said during the press conference.
“Baka ang sabihin ng iba, kapag nag-sorry ako, na talagang inamin kong nagkamali ako, na sinadya ko. Nag-sorry lang ako kung may mga na-alaarma ako o iba ang pagkaintindi sa sinabi ko,” Olivar added.
However even with the apology, the NCRPO decided to file a complaint against Olivar at the Department of Justice (DOJ) for violating Presidential Decree 1727 that prohibits the malicious dissemination of false information of the willful making of any threat concerning bombs or explosives.
On Thursday, September 27, The NCRPO formally filed charges against Olivar for violating PD 1727 in relation to Republic Act 10175, also known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act. The police initially attempted to file the charges on Tuesday, September 25 but was told by the Justice department to gather more evidence.
- TELLING UP STUDENTS TO COMMIT SUICIDE
Recently, mental health advocates had also assailed Olivar after unearthing a February 2018 video in which the blogger told UP students to hang themselves at the Oblation statues in their campuses.
Thru a social media post on Tuesday, September 25, Youth for Mental Health Coalition (Y4MC) Chairperson RJ Naguit showed a video with the said clip and said that ‘no one has the right to trivialize suicide and mental health conditions’.
“Various groups have been working so hard to fight the stigma and promote responsible means of reporting mental health. Here you have the Pepederalismo dancer, bomb scare instigator, and PWD trivializer Drew Olivar rambling mindlessly about suicide/self-harm,” Naguit added in his Twitter post.