Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Former U.P. Law student, trending?

You heard that right. But i'm afraid, not for the right reasons.

After watching "Ang Babae sa Septik Tank" (which was hilarious, btw) this afternoon, I checked my Twitter feeds from my phone and everyone was seem to be talking about a certain Christopher Lao. I wondered if this is the Christopher Lao I know, since his name is quite a common name. So i started asking people to know what the fuss is all about. Lo and behold, people started tweeting that this guy is a former UP student. "Summa Cum Laude from UP," people were saying. At this point, I was kinda sure it was him. Then I asked "what's up with him?" People said that he has video that has gone viral in Facebook and Twitter. Then I asked for a link of the video. The video link led me to YouTube, and showed a video entitled "Dumb Arse, Squint and four eyed Driver on the loose." The video was a clip from the GMA-7 news program "24 Oras", which showed a car floating in a flooded street somewhere in QC. Then, Chris alighted from the car and was interviewed by a GMA-7 reporter. Visibly upset, Chris said that the incident was the fault of MMDA and Traffic enforcers for not barricading the street since it was not passable due to the flood. He further argued that he should have been informed that the road was not passable. However, this stand apparently caught the ire of people online. I saw several Facebook pages created because of the incident. These pages have so far been a venue for virtual strangers to Chris to ridicule, insult and bash him. A person even created a fake Facebook account and started liking the hurtful comments posted on the page. Even the people posting on Twitter have nothing good to say. Cyberbullying at its finest.

Chris just graduated from our college last March, and is about to take the Bar Exams this November. With a busted car and the stress that comes with the bar review, surely, we need not add to what he is going through. We are not close, but he has been my classmate on several subjects in this college and I know him to be a pretty cool, humble, soft-spoken guy. He may have been negligent, but still, he doesn't deserve the cruel words and the name-calling people have been hurling towards him. We all have those not-so-proud moments. Too bad his ended up on national television, and later online. I just don't think he deserves all the ridicule he is getting now. It is just unfortunate that the incident he got involved in caught the attention of people who, apparently, have nothing better to do.

Can Chris, legally, go after the people insulting and harassing him online? In the Philippines, there has been no established ruling on whether or not people's insulting posts and comments online can be considered a libelous remarks. Simply put, our laws haven't caught up with the advancements in information and communications technology and social media. I agree that we are all entitled to our own opinion about things, and that we should be free to air such thoughts. This, however, should have limitations. Our "online personality" should not be treated differently from our "actual self." But people seem to forget that. And they have been hiding behind the cloak of protection afforded to them by their "online personality." It is just fair the we should be responsible and accountable for what we put online.

As of the writing, we are trying to report these pages to the Facebook admin so that it can be taken down. However, I'm afraid that the damage has been done.

‎"You may be amused by the mistakes or misfortunes of others. But, this does not entitle you to degrade their entire character or make conclusions about their whole person. Christopher Lao does not deserve the treatment he is getting from others in facebook and twitter. And yes, he is from UP College of Law and we are still proud of him." - Dean Marvic Leonen

Entry No. 7

Mark Garrido