'Die-hard' Duterte supporters attack Don Tagala for reporting on Honeylet Avanceña's NY trip

By Media Newser Philippines | Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Screenshot: ABS-CBN
ABS-CBN reporter Don Tagala provoked the ire of some "die-hard" supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte after he filed a report about his common-law wife Honeylet Avanceña, whom he spotted watching a Broadway play in New York last week, in time for the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

At first, Avanceña confirmed to Tagala her involvement with the Philippine UN delegation, but when he asked her specifically about her role, she gave a different answer, saying she was just invited.

In the televised report, Tagala also asked Avanceña who paid for her trip before he was blocked by her security personnel from filming.

Malacañang earlier said that Avanceña went to New York “on a personal trip” to attend an event upon the invitation of U.S. First Lady Melania Trump. They likewise released a copy of her invitation on Tuesday.

On social media, some of President Duterte's most ardent supporters responded by hurling cuss words and insults at Tagala, mobbing him both on his Facebook and Twitter pages. Pro-Duterte blogger and DFA consultant RJ Nieto in a Facebook post also called on his followers to go after the Kapamilya reporter.

In a Facebook post, Tagala said that the Palace should have been more clear about Ms. Avanceña's role at the UNGA, writing: "Why are they having a hard time explaining or answering a pretty simple and straight forward question: Who paid for it? Why were they giving different stories on why she was here in the first place?"

He added: "If she has the money to pay for her own trip then say so. End of story. If Philippine tax payers paid for it because it was an 'official' function of the recognized 'First Lady' of the Philippines, then say so."

Local newser have become easy targets for some politico supporters. From Rappler's Maria Ressa and Pia Ranada to Al Jazeera's Jamela Alindogan and Gretchen Malalad, journalists have been subjected to what is apparent to be a coordinated smear campaign online.

Rappler last year investigated some of the online networks of Duterte supporters and found out that they include fake news, fake accounts, bots and trolls, which are being used to silence critics.

"What we're seeing on social media again is manufactured reality," said Rappler CEO Maria Ressa in an interview with BBC. "They also create a very real chilling effect against normal people, against journalists (who) are the first targets and they attack in very personal ways with death threats and rape threats."

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