Journalist under fire for comment on Duterte’s accent 

Photo: Screenshot from @raissawriter Twitter and photo by Robinson Niñal of Malacañang Palace photo.
Photo: Screenshot from @raissawriter Twitter and photo by Robinson Niñal of Malacañang Palace photo.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s televised interview on Tuesday was a lightning rod for netizens’ jeers, jokes, and memes, but not everyone is laughing at this tweet by journalist Raissa Robles.

Although posted on Tuesday, the tweet has since gone viral, with many criticizing Robles for what many think was a bad joke about Duterte’s accent.

Her tweet reads: “Duterte just now said that the communists are engaged in ‘armed stragol.'”

Note that she spelled “struggle” the way Duterte pronounced it in the interview.

Duterte is from Davao, a part of Visayas island where Cebuano is the mother tongue. While Filipino (a standardized form of Tagalog) and English are the Philippines’ official languages, there are actually over 100 languages and dialects in the country.

The Visayan accent has long been the butt of jokes in mainstream Philippine pop culture, which is why many were annoyed by Robles’ comment.

While some see this as just another way for Duterte’s supporters to vilify critics, even those who don’t normally support the administration were angered by the tweet.

Actress Chai Fonacier, who hails from Cebu, called Robles out on Twitter.

“I don’t like Duterte but maaan don’t make fun of our accent. Manila screams Pinoy Pinoy so much but doesn’t know how to truly appreciate diversity,” she wrote yesterday.

She continued to share her thoughts on the issue.

“And people wonder why we’re bitter to an extent? We get microaggressions enough to fill a whole night’s worth of talk over buckets of beer. Don’t get me started.”

In following tweets, Fonacier also shared what she called “microaggressions” Visayans experience in Manila. Some of her examples included people saying “Speak in Tagalog, you’re in Manila” and some calling Visayans and their language baduy (not cool).

The issue has sparked other Visayans to share their own struggles with discrimination in Manila.

“100%. Made my blood boil whenever they made fun of it. Made a few people shut up when I pointed it out to them,” Twitter user @lostsephy said.

Despite all the backlash, Robles seems to stand by her tweet. She has responded to multiple people who called her out and even questioned why critics reacted the way they did.

“Now I get it. Filipinos can make some observations about American accents but NOT THE VISAYAN ACCENT.”

She also said that people have been “brainwashed” about there being an “Imperial Mla (Manila).”

Others also came to Robles’ defense. Edwin Lacierda, the former Spokesperson for President Benigno Aquino III brought up the time when Duterte made fun of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. for having an American accent.

Netizen @melindific, on the other hand, told Robles to just ignore her critics. “I understand your tweet and there was nothing offensive there,” she said.

What do you think? Was Robles’ tweet offensive or have people blown it out of proportion? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @CoconutsManila.

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