Bad PR: Marketing agency boss apologizes for controversial Mindanao earthquake tweets

<i>Photo: Yoly Ong/FB</i>
Photo: Yoly Ong/FB

The founder of one of the Philippines’ biggest public relations and marketing agencies today apologized for posting a controversial tweet widely perceived as suggesting that the pro-Duterte leanings of the people of Davao were to blame for the recent Mindanao earthquakes.

Yoly Villanueva-Ong, the founder of local firm Campaigns & Gray, posted a statement today on Twitter saying her own politics had clouded her judgment.

“People who are close to me know how much I love your country… They know how I pray, sympathize, and help disaster victims as much as I can, including the victims of the Mindanao earthquakes,” Villanueva-Ong’s statement reads.

While she expressed remorse for her prior remarks, Villanueva-Ong went on to allege that the widespread criticism she has since received from netizens was part of a well-organized campaign to attack her, a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Read: ‘I told the earthquake, stop!’: Pastor Quiboloy says we have him to thank for Mindanao quake ending

“The objectionable tweet was deleted. But the bashing continues. The speed, intensity, and magnitude of malice lead me to surmise that this is an orchestrated, well-funded, and highly incendiary campaign to destroy my reputation simply because I am identified with the opposition,” her statement continues.

“True enough, there are now attempts to link me to the Office of the Vice President. I categorically deny this.”

Ong’s tweet went viral on Sunday after Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Mon Cualoping posted a screenshot of it on his Facebook page, where he also alleged that Ong represents Vice President Leni Robredo, an accusation that Robredo’s office denied today.

In her tweet, Villanueva-Ong had lambasted Duterte supporters in Mindanao — whom she mockingly referred to as “Davao Disaster Survivors,” a play on the fan group’s real name, Duterte Diehard Supporters (DDS), as well as the city where Duterte was mayor and still enjoys overwhelming support.

“Don’t you get it?” she wrote in Filipino and English. “The earth wants to swallow you. You should pray and ask for forgiveness… Duts should seriously prepare for the afterlife. It’s getting hot, hotter, hottest.”

Unsurprisingly, many Duterte supporters reacted angrily to Villanueva-Ong’s tweet, which has been deleted from her account. However, she also tweeted a similarly incendiary follow-up post on Sunday, suggesting that only the non-Duterte supporters were deserving of aid in the aftermath of the disaster.

“The Mindanaoans who are not DDS need all the help and prayers,” reads the second tweet, which was still visible on her account as of press time. “Choose the relief [organizations] that you can trust not to steal your contribution. Rise up, good people of Mindanao.”

Photo: Yolly Ong Twitter
Photo: Yolly Ong Twitter

Mindanao has been greatly affected by a series of strong earthquakes that struck late last month, displacing nearly 30,000 people.

The situation in Cotabato, one of the affected areas, is such that victims have been seen on the roadside begging for food and medicine.

What do you think of Ong’s sentiments? Tell us by leaving a comment below or tweeting to @CoconutsManila.



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