By Raïssa Robles
And so it was natural for them to ask fellow journalist Jonathan Head what had happened to set off his encounter with a “major blogger” with over half a million followers on Facebook.
Controversy is nothing new to him. Two months ago, he was hauled to court to stand trial for a defamation suit arising from a story he had written on how foreign retirees lost their retirement homes to scammers. He had faced a possible five months in jail. Fortunately, the charges were withdrawn.
And so he was free to fly to Manila to cover the 50th anniversary of ASEAN without having to worry about any court suit. Little did he know what awaited him here.
I asked Head’s permission to post his version of the events of November 13, 2017. This is what he told fellow journos:
“I bumped into her by accident. I’d gone over to introduce myself to Mocha Uson. When I realized Sass was there I said hello, and introduced myself, because she had commented very critically of my reporting last year. I had hoped to have a constructive conversation. But it wasn’t really possible.”
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“She’s obviously smart, and knew what she was doing. It was a skillful ambush. But a bit intense, all the tears, and Mocha Uson handing her tissues. And then the accusation of me, with my white skin misreporting people with brown skin. Hard to argue with really. I did suggest we continue the discussion elsewhere. Of course at an ASEAN press center, without much happening, it attracted a lot of attention. Much better journalists are not the story really. We just aren’t that important. Our influence is overrated here.”
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“I’m getting lots of hate messages now of course – along with some supporting, although both sides are so screamingly insulting of each other I just feel like asking them to leave me out of it. Amusingly someone has decided that the word ‘poppycock’ is shockingly insulting, so that’s become the favoured term of abuse for me now.”
After having seen what had happened; having read Jonathan Head’s version of events; and having realized that two government officials were present watching the entire thing unfold with one of them (RJ Nieto, aka @Thinking Pinoy even videotaping it), I am forced to conclude that the entire tirade was just that – poppycock.
[Disclosure – BBC Radio sometimes interviews me although I am a minor blogger with no PR firm or political party affiliation.]