(UPDATED – 9:09 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Leila de Lima’s staffers on Wednesday demanded an “immediate apology” from blogger Rey Joseph “RJ” Nieto and Mike Acebedo Lopez, who describes himself as a communications advisor at the House of Representatives, after they allegedly mocked the detained lawmaker by posing wacky in their photos taken in front of her Senate office in Pasay City.
Lopez was erroneously referred to in an earlier InterAksyon posting as a National Youth Commission member, but NYC chair Aiza Seguerra said he had left the NYC several years ago.
In a statement, De Lima’s chief media and communications officer Ferdie J. Maglalang said the lawmaker’s staffers “take serious offense at the discourteous behavior” of Nieto and Acebedo “when they posed taunting photos to ridicule” the senator “right in front of our office as they visited the Senate for an interview last Oct. 3.”
Nieto, who is behind the blog Thinking Pinoy, is head of the Strategic Communications Unit under the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs.
Maglalang said Nieto and Acebedo “should not only be reminded of their basic proper manners whether they are conducting their professional duties or personal affairs, but also be reprimanded for their uncouth action which blatantly dishonors the institutions they represent.”
Acebedo posted his and Nieto’s photos on his Facebook page. One of the pictures had a caption that read, “222 days in detention!” that was accompanied with an ROFL (Rolling on Floor, Laughing) emoji and the hashtag #LeilaDeLima #222toForever.
‘Why add insult to injury?’
“The Senate and its members, along with their respective, hardworking and decent employees, deserve respect and courtesy from the public, including their visitors whom we welcome with hospitality,” Maglalang said.
“Even if we may have differences in views and opinions, we expect each and every one of us to observe and adhere to a basic modicum of professionalism at all times. Rudeness should never have a room in our democratic society,” he added.
However, Maglalang said Nieto and Lopez “miserably failed the basic tenets of professionalism and courtesy, to say the very least.”
“Their misconduct aimed at mocking a sitting, albeit detained Senator, and her staff, is unacceptable and contemptuous, and should never be tolerated,” he said.
“We respect every person’s right to freedom of expression but we lament the level of ‘discourse’ or lack thereof that our nation has sunk down to,” said Maglalang.
“Freedom is not untrammelled, as it should be bound by the limits of courtesy and fair play – why add insult to the injury already inflicted on a maligned and falsely charged public servant?,” he further said.
“Posting photos to mock Senator De Lima and her staff would not earn you legitimacy but only speaks of the crudeness of your character,” he added.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This update is a correction of the earlier story mentioning that Mr. Mike Acebedo Lopez is a member of the National Youth Commission.
Mr. Lopez is a former NYC member and is currently a communications advisor at the House of Representatives.
According to his LinkedIn account, Mr. Lopez now “advises the Office/Deputy Speaker on matters involving political communication, policy development, international affairs, media and public relations.”
He also “drafts or fine-tunes proposed bills/ resolutions and other official communication. Writes policy and privilege speeches.”