Atty. Randolf Libayan, a rising star in Youtube was attacked by cyberbullies. He was de-platformed and was falsely accused of Copyright infringement in Facebook. His first page in Facebook called BatasNatin.com Law Firm – Libayan, Magalong & Associates was temporarily suspended by Facebook Philippines without respecting his right to be heard. It was found out later on that Ivana Alawi, the offended influencer, has something to do with the suspension of his account due to allegations of Copyright Infringement.
The intention of Atty. Libayan’s videos is meant to primarily educate the people about the laws in the Philippines. According to the Intellectual Property Code, a content creator is covered by the fair use doctrine wherein he may use portions of another persons’ work without asking for permission as long as it is for commentary and educational purposes. His use of the videos produced by Ivana Alawi constitutes fair use since he used her videos for educational commentary about the laws she may have violated in the Philippines.
Ivana Alawi led a lot of her followers to complain on Facebook Philippines in order to unjustly deprive Atty. Libayan of his legal rights over his contents. The reason behind this was because she refused to be corrected and she did not like what he is saying. Sadly, such behavior is not unique to her. It is a commonplace in the Philippine society to use every means to intimidate and silence critics. This happened not only to Atty. Libayan but to many small content creators.
Filipino Culture of Repression and Role of Influencers
Is such act of repression cultural? Looking at the Filipino life-world, repression is deeply rooted in family value systems. In a common household, a Filipino child cannot say that his parents are wrong or call them out if they are doing something wrong. Their parents would discipline them or rebut criticism harshly. In schools, children were not taught to think critically and to accept criticisms. Lastly, in politics, criticism of politicians may invite not only delay in processing permits but also death.
According to Oswald Spengler, the life cycle of a civilization can be likened to seasons. Summer represents the establishment of a civilization where its fundamental principles were being established. Spring represents the peak of its refinement while Autumn represents the gradual decay. Finally Winter represents the stagnation and death of a civilization. A civilization is the sum total of all achievements of a people and such includes culture.
The influencers are part of the culture. They both create and represent a culture of a society. They are parts of the sum total of society’s achievements. They play a crucial part in building up or destroying a civilization. Why? It is for the simple reason that they hold sway over a large amount of people.
Ivana Alawi’s act of repressing Atty. Libayan is just a microcosm of the Filipino life-world. She is not alone in using her power to repress opinions contrary to her beliefs. Dr. Adam Smith, the person behind Doc Adam Youtube channel is also being harassed and pestered by influencers such as Dr. Farrah Bunch and Ben Tulfo. In fact, lawsuits are filed against Dr. Adam in Australia with the purpose of silencing and intimidating him.
What is the genealogy of such repressive culture? The answer lies with the collective colonial experience of Filipinos with the previous colonizers. During the Spanish colonial era, the Roman Catholic Church played a crucial part in values formation. In order to effectively control the natives, the Spanish friars condemned wealth, discouraged higher learning and penalized any form of criticism as damnable heresies. This resulted into an atmosphere ignorance and fear and inequalities in society. The exception to this rule however are the native aristocracies and later on, the Filipino Bourgeoisie.
The native aristocracies who collaborated with the Spanish have enough wealth and influence to get away with what commoners suffer from. During the final years of Spanish colonization, restrictions on education and trade are eased. This resulted to the rise of the Filipino Bourgeoisie. Members of this class of Filipinos can afford to get the best education abroad. Many of them are exposed to Western ideals of the enlightenment which includes liberty, fraternity and equality. The problem was when some of the members of this class demanded for reforms which included the expansion of Spanish education and representation of Filipinos in the Spanish Cortes, the Spanish colonial government in the Philippines branded these reformists as subversives and heretics. Jose Rizal was excommunicated and executed thru a firing squad.
Why share Philippine history? It is because it gives the series of events which may be the penultimate cause of the tendency of influencers to resort in silencing their critics. Historically, freedom is only available to those who wield huge influence over the people in the Philippines. Even if it is taught in the Bible that all men and women were created equal, there are men and women who are more equal. The repression of small time influencers such as Atty. Libayan and Dr. Adam are just microcosms of the big problem among Filipino influencers which is the culture of repression.
Emancipation of Influencers in Order to Become Better
According to Paulo Freire, since the nature of colonialism is repressive, the people should be liberated from false consciousness thru emancipative education. Influencers should be liberated from their ignorance and toxicity but how can this be done? This is where revolutionary struggle kicks in.
Many see revolution as military and political but in its more modern conceptions, it includes the ideological and consequently, the cultural. In order to emancipate these influencers and make them better, their repressive acts must be called out and exposed. Why? It is to encourage discussions about the repercussions of their evil acts to people in order to trigger moral enlightenment in them. Once they are fully enlightened of how tyrannical and evil they are becoming, they might consider backing down.
Of course, aside from exposures, they should be taken to court not to make them suffer but to force them into becoming better influencers. The mere threat of a lawsuit forces change in interactions from a condescending to a more humble one. Aside from taking them to court, the Filipino people can also lobby to the lawmakers in creating laws that prevent Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.
Lastly, a common Filipino can fight against the culture of repression thru educating his friends about the evils of cultural repression. He or she can fight by showing that a healthy discourse includes criticism against those who have large followings. After all, all human beings are created equal by God.