Filipino-speaking Australian doctor Adam Smith expressed interest in jest after the incoming press secretary announced the plan to accredit vloggers to cover some of the Palace briefings.
The doctor, who used to vlog on YouTube before, responded to a news article that reported on the plan of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), which lawyer-vlogger Trixie Cruz-Angeles will head.
“Pwede rin ba ko jan (diyan) at vlogger din ako. Charrrrr,” Smith wrote on Twitter.
The doctor used to regularly release vlogs under his channel “Doc Adam” since 2017. It has 2.02 million subscribers so far.
He has been giving medical tips and advice and debunking medical disinformation for Filipinos through his videos, based on his more than ten years of experience as a medical practitioner.
Smith used to visit the Philippines for medical missions and had since learned to speak Filipino.
The doctor ceased vlogging last year after revealing that he was facing a lawsuit filed against him by Filipino doctor Farrah Bunch-Agustin.
He has been calling her out before in his vlogs, saying that she gives “dangerous advice online.”
Smith also warned Filipinos about some of her products tagged by the local Food and Drug Administration in 2020.
‘One of the priorities’
Meanwhile, Cruz-Angeles on Wednesday revealed that the incoming PCOO is “pushing for accreditation of vloggers to be invited to some of the briefings” especially those conducted by president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself.
“That is one of the priorities we formulated for the incoming PCOO. We’re also looking at things like opening up discourse and looking at issues of disinformation that seem to be a hot-button topic nowadays,” she said during a briefing.
Vloggers, with multi-phone camera setups, are among those who have been trailing, along with journalists, the “UniTeam” campaign sorties or the campaign of the Marcos-Duterte-Carpio tandem and their senatorial slate.
On some occasions, these vloggers were given greater access to the president-elect than the reporters.
Cruz-Angeles were also asked if they would allow all journalists to physically cover presidential events.
“I think we’ll have to look at the existing policies first and determine, make a decision later on as to how appropriate they are for the current times,” she responded.
Incoming officials of the Marcos administration have promised better access to media. Still, action on this has been wanting since they have ignored critical questions and excluded, albeit supposedly unintentionally, outlets from Marcos Jr’s first briefing after his proclamation.
A group of mainstream media journalists called the Malacañang Press Corps is accredited to cover Palace.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) expressed concern over PCOO’s planned policy. It cited that the plan might benefit vloggers with a bias toward Marcos.
“Democratizing access to government by way of vloggers is commendable in principle, but must be viewed in the context that the vloggers who may likely benefit from this access would be the pro-Marcos vloggers, as was the case during the campaign,” the NUJP said in a statement.
“Wider access is good, but must not be at the expense of institutional media, which has been sidelined during the campaign as false information spread rapidly online, many of which have been traced to the same network,” it added.
The NUJP said the space for trained, professional journalists providing vetted information “continues to shrink.”
“If the incoming Marcos administration is sincere in upholding transparency and press freedom, it would ensure that this space is protected,” the group said.
The NUJP said the proposal to accredit vloggers also raises questions of independence and accountability.
“Will the PCOO, which will essentially vouch for the vloggers and influencers it accredits, also be accountable for the content that they might release? Would vlogger access be dependent on whether the content is favorable to the incoming administration or not?” the group said.