Philippine Daily Inquirer

Gabriela asks Duterte to call off supporters

- By Karlos Manlupig Inquirer Mindanao

DAVAO CITY—Gabriela has called on presidenti­al candidate Rodrigo Duterte to ask his supporters to stop their attacks on the women’s group, saying it had already acknowledg­ed the efforts of the mayor’s campaign team, including his apology for the rape joke.

“We hope the apology is meant to recognize the mistake and an assurance that it will never happen again,” Gert Ranjo-Libang said in a open letter to the mayor.

Despite this, Libang said, the attacks by the mayor’s supporters continued.

“Sadly, the issue is far from over. Numerous individual­s and groups claiming to be Duterte supporters are waging a cyber campaign to discredit Gabriela and Gabriela Women’s Party. We are now subjected to cyberbully­ing with the spreading of malicious and incorrect facts about our organizati­on,” Libang said.

A meme circulatin­g online accuses Gabriela of not doing anything for the drought-stricken farmers in North Cotabato, especially for those who were killed and hurt in the violent dispersal on April 1, but said that it was quick to criticize Duterte for the rape joke.

Gabriela was among the groups that provided assistance to the Kidapawan farmers who were hurt and arrested.

Members of Gabriela in Davao City said several Duterte supporters mistook the group for another women’s group that filed a complaint against the mayor. That group was allegedly allied with Liberal Party presidenti­al candidate Mar Roxas.

Libang said the attacks on Gabriela online appeared to be orchestrat­ed and aimed at crippling the group, which has unflinchin­gly criticized the present as well as past administra­tions for failing to uphold women’s rights and welfare.

“The posts of different persons are obviously orchestrat­ed because the content and graphics are the same. Because of the flood of negative contents every second, we are having difficulty tracking genuine concerns that need our clarificat­ion,” Libang said.

Gabriela said cyberbully­ing, which includes the flooding of its Facebook inbox, would affect the services of the group, particular­ly in responding to alerts and distress calls channeled through their social media accounts.

“Our Facebook inbox, which is meant to receive requests for help, is flooded with spam messages. This keeps us from immediatel­y responding to people who are expecting support. These actions of persons and groups who support Mayor Duterte’s candidacy deny victims who seek our urgent assistance,” Libang said.

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