first published on Blogwatch.ph
It was a story of compassion, of political epiphany, of a law enforcer coming to terms with the inherent contradictions of his job – realizing the futility of force in confronting a sea of legitimate demands for higher wages and decent housing. But as it turned out, several users on social media and even respected journalists saw it in a different light. The story was reduced to a foreigner yelling at a cop, as if it happened just at any street corner in Manila. The context of a People’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) rally being violently dispersed by throngs of cops was cropped out.
And then there was a story bigger than the crying cop. PO1 Joselito Sevilla became the victim of foreign activist’s mere yelling.
As expected, the new packaging in 140 characters sold like hotcakes, soliciting all kinds of indignation and racism on Facebook and Twitter against foreign activist Thomas van Beersum, who only sought to stop the police from beating and shoving Filipino protesters. Calls for deportation were issued, while others threatened to maul the foreign activist. None inquired whether there is something in Beersum’s breath that smelled like onions. They simply jumped into the bandwagon without looking at the facts and the circumstances.
Mainstream journalists on Twitter meanwhile helped fan the selective nationalism against Beersum, questioning Beersum’s right to yell at cops based merely on his nationality. Based on their assumption, they should also be as adamant in defending Filipino call center agents who are being yelled at daily by their foreign customers. They should be raving about abusive foreign employers and supervisors who reprimand Filipino workers for failing to meet the daily production quota. They should be angry at the Aquino government’s policy of peddling Filipino workers to abusive work relations either in BPO hubs or foreign households. But they are not. They are angry only at Beersum.
When Aquino’s Charter change pushes through, they should not be surprised that more foreigner-yelling-at-Filipino scenarios will unfold, even in newsrooms.