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|Born||Rey Joseph P. Nieto|
|Pen name||ThinkingPinoy Thinking Biik|
|Subject||Politics, Current Events, Public Affairs|
Rey Joseph "RJ" P. Nieto is a Filipino blogger who is better known by his pen name "Thinking Pinoy" (lit. a thinking Filipino), which is also the name of his blog site. His blogs tackle a wide array of subjects, from politics to current events.
Work and education
Together with veteran journalists Jojo Robles, Conrad Banal and Jonathan Dela Cruz, Nieto currently serves as a co-host of the podcast of Karambola sa DWIZ 882, a radio and internet podcast program tackling political issues.
Rey Joseph finished high school in 2002 at St. Mary's College of Baliuag. He attended the University of the Philippines Diliman majoring in Mathematics but later dropped from school in 2005 due to financial problems.
He worked as a reporter at the Sunstar Davao local newspaper from 2010 to 2011.
Nieto established his blog site, "Thinking Pinoy" in November 2015. He initially began to write his own political opinions after realizing that he usually does not agree with political views he reads online. When the campaign period for the 2016 Philippine elections began, he decided to start the blog after noting that "there was something different in the air". He initially expected a readership of 500 people a week.
Nieto claimed that his first article registered 10-15 thousand hits and said that his blog's readership ballooned in December 2015 when he made a post tackling the issue of Senator Mar Roxas' degree from University of Pennsylvania. He said that his site crashed 21 times and that particular post registered at least a million hits. Most of the pro-Duterte bloggers register similarly large numbers of engagement. There has been some debate on whether the numbers for pundits such as Nieto were organic/unadulterated or the fruit of astroturfing and white glove weaponization tactics offered by Facebook to political clients.
- Aquino and P10.6-B senior citizens’ funds
On January 5, 2018, The Manila Times journalist Rigoberto Tiglao wrote in his column regarding alleged corruption of the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III citing ThinkingPinoy's articles which he verified from his own souces. It was alleged that Aquino along with budget secretary Florencio Abad, and health secretary, Janette Garin conspired to embezzle P10.6 billion fund meant for the insurance premium of senior citizens and reallocated it to dubious health department projects not sanctioned by the congress which was alleged to be done "at best" to boost the Liberal Party's campaign in the 2016 elections. Rigoberto Tiglao is an opinion columnist who has been accused of red-baiting, promoting fake news, allowing personal vendettas to find their way into his opinion column, and favoring unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. Tiglao is a known apologist of the Marcos family and their regime, despite the fact that the Marcoses are extensively referred to by journalists, reputable researchers, and other empirically reliable sources as one of the most corrupt leaders in the world in recent history. The Manila Times also publishes several of the most prominent and relevant pro-Duterte "Die Hard" supporters, raising suspicions amongst pro-democracy, press freedom, and human rights activists and thinkers about the paper's ability to provide non-propagandist coverage of current events in the Philippines.
Fake news and misinformation
- Donald Trump and Antonio Trillianes - in 2017, Nieto made a post where he alleged that US President Donald Trump called Senator Antonio Trillanes a "little narco" or a drug lord. The senator called the claims in the article "fake news" and has filed a libel case against Nieto for the post while the blogger claimed that the primary source for the post was Al Pedroche's column in Pilipino Star Ngayon. Pedroche has apologized for the column saying that the interaction between Trump and Trillanes did not take place.
- In June 2017, Nieto accused photojournalist Jes Aznar of endangering government troops during the Battle of Marawi by revealing positions to the public via videos posted online. Contrary to Nieto's claims, Aznar posted the videos when the government troops he was embedded with were already out of the area, and that Aznar's video postings were fully sanctioned by the military. Nieto was condemned in posting his false accusations by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines for endangering Aznar's life via threats and harassment from Nieto's followers.
- In November 2017, Nieto created a post misquoting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as saying "...Theoretically, it is impossible to get (the garbage) back... even if it originally came from Canada" in reference to trash shipped to the Philippines from Canada. In fact, Trudeau's actual quote was "Even though it originally came from Canada, we had legal barriers and restrictions that prevented us from being able to take it back. Those regulations and those impediments have now been addressed, so it is now theoretically possible to get it back.", which is the complete opposite of what Nieto posted.
- On March 4, 2018, he cited a falsified 1979 psychiatric report attributed to the late Fr. Jaime Bulatao, SJ on former President Benigno Aquino III. On March 7, The Ateneo de Manila University Department of Psychology condemned the posting and reiterated that the report was a fabrication. On April 27, 2010, Bulatao had already categorically denied having written and signed the report.
- On January 18, 2020, Nieto claimed that Ayala Land was only paying ₱22 per square meter monthly to University of the Philippines for the lease of land of U.P.–Ayala Land TechnoHub, citing his expertise as a former Mathematics major at said university (which he did not graduate from) to get to this figure. Office of the President of the Philippines spokesperson Salvador Panelo declared that he wanted to review the lease contract between Ayala Land and University of the Philippines after reading about it on Nieto's blog. In actuality, Ayala Land is bound to pay more than ₱10 billion for the lease of land owned by University of the Philippines and is currently paying ₱171 per square meter and not ₱22 as claimed by Nieto and cited by Panelo.
Bases Conversion and Development Authority
The Bases Conversion and Development Authority reportedly offered Nieto a consultancy post to help it promote its projects especially the major endeavours under the Duterte administration's Build! Build! Build! infrastructure program but the blogger declined the offer.
Department of Foreign Affairs
RJ Nieto was hired in July 2017 by the Department of Foreign Affairs as its social media consultant and was tasked to be its "head of strategic communications for migrant workers' affairs". He reportedly resigned in November 2017, a week after attending a Senate hearing which discussed fake news.
Legal and Cultural Criticism
It has been noted by Filipino academics such as Jonathan Corpus Ong and Jason Cabanes (in their published report Architects of Networked Disinformation) that the Duterte regime counts on many members of the LGBTQI+ community as cheerleaders because they possess a control of popular vernacular language and codes, as well as an ability to code-switch easily, from high to low language, between genders on multiple social media accounts, between socialist and extreme right policies. The report also states, in its ethnographic profile of a "chief disinformation architect," a quote that summarized much of the criticism hurled at RJ Nieto: "It is interesting how corruption in mainstream media is used as a moral justification to dispose of institutionalized practice by replacing it with another version—equally lacking in scruples, and ultimately benefiting themselves. By expressing statements that normalize or even exaggerate evil or corruption in existing public institutions, these ambitious workers imagine themselves as self-styled agents of positive change." It could be reliably argued that RJ Nieto fits the bill as a "chief architect of disinformation," as per the qualifications in this report and as per Nieto's touting of his own relevance as a political opinion maker within a regime that has demonstrably used disinformation to assert its positions.
Nieto stated at a senate hearing in 2018 that the Department of Foreign Affairs, where he briefly occupied a position before resigning, needed him more that he needed it, clearly stating that he (and by extension, bloggers like him) are more important than the government institutions that they serve. It has become standard practice in the Duterte administration to reward loyalists with government positions, despite public outcry on all levels at the lack of professional qualifications for the posts they are appointed to. Duterte himself stated that he appointed Nieto's close associate and now government official, Mocha Uson, to her position at the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) because he owed it her (according to Filipino social value of "utang na loob" or debt of gratitude) for offering her services for free during his campaign period. This casts a shadow on Nieto's own appointment to a position at the Department for Foreign Affairs, a post for which he did not possess previous experience or sector-specific understanding of career civil service in the department.
- "Thinking Pinoy designated new DFA consultant". Latest Philippine News Today. 2017-07-07. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
- "Thinking Pinoy RJ Nieto asks DFA to end his consultancy deal". GMA News Online. 2017-10-10. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
- "Who is Thinking Pinoy? An Exclusive interview (Part 1)". Concept Central (in English and Filipino). Concept Group Inc. 18 January 2017. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
- Etter, Lauren (December 7, 2017). "What Happens When the Government Uses Facebook as a Weapon?". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- Tiglao, Rigoberto (5 January 2018). "Aquino gang hijacked P10.6-B senior citizens' funds". The Manila Times. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
- Tiglao, Rigoberto (October 19, 2017). "CIA conduit funding anti-Duterte media outfits". The Manila Times. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- Tiglao, Rigoberto (September 25, 2016). "Helped by communists, oligarchs demonized Marcos to conceal their rule". The Manila Times. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- Sandbrook, Jeremy. "The 10 Most Corrupt World Leaders of Recent History". Integritas360. Integritas360. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- Nery, John (September 11, 2013). "Corruption in Philippines: Marcos was the worst". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- Davies, Nick (May 7, 2016). "The $10bn question: what happened to the Marcos millions?". The Guardian. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- Palanca, Clinton (August 22, 2017). "Can Fearless Journalism Survive Rodrigo Duterte?". The New York Times. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- "CBCP guide lists websites peddling fake news". Rappler. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
- "Blogger Thinking Pinoy apologized after posting fake news about Robredo's portrait being sold on eBay". Memebuster.net. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
- de Santos, Jonathan (22 November 2017). "Trillanes sues Thinking Pinoy blogger over 'Little Narco' post". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
- "NUJP condemns blogger for endangering photojournalist covering Marawi | Philstar.com". philstar.com. 2017-06-20. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
- Nieto, RJ (June 18, 2017). "Thinking Pinoy: JES AZNAR, GET OUT OF MINDANAO FOR YOUR OWN GOOD". Facebook. Thinking Pinoy.
- Bartolome, Jessica (October 4, 2017). "NUJP to Thinking Pinoy's RJ Nieto: No place in gov't for barefaced liars". GMA News Online.
- Bartolome, Jessica (June 20, 2017). "Filtered By: News NEWS NUJP hits Thinking Pinoy for 'endangering photog', blogger insists Aznar compromised soldiers". GMA News.
- "Shipping garbage back to Canada now possible - Trudeau - Vera Files". Vera Files. 2017-11-14. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
- Occeñola, Paige (November 16, 2017). "Mocha Uson shares graphic on Facebook misquoting Trudeau". Rappler.
- Ramos-Araneta, Macon (November 16, 2017). "Palace official shares fake news on Canada's Trudeau". Manila Standard.
- Nieto, RJ. "PNOY, THE VINDICTIVE PRESIDENT?". Thinking Pinoy. Thinking Pinoy. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
- Ateneo de Manila, Department of Psychology. "STATEMENT OF THE ATENEO PSYCHOLOGY DEPARTMENT ON THE FAKE NEWS ABOUT FR. JAIME C. BULATAO'S ALLEGED 'PSYCHIATRIC EVALUATION' OF FORMER PRESIDENT BENIGNO C. AQUINO III". Ateneo de Manila University. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
- "Ateneo condemns revival fake issue of Noynoy's psych evaluation". GMA News Online. 2018-03-08. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
- Bulatao, Jaime C. "Response of Fr. Jaime C. Bulatao, SJ about the Fabricated "Psychiatric Evaluation" of Senator Benigno C. Aquino III". Ateneo de Manila University. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
- "Ateneo priest denies conducting psych evaluation on Noynoy". GMA News Online. 2010-04-27. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
- Nieto, Rey Joseph (January 18, 2020). "UP Naming Binarat? UP gets only ₱22/sqm monthly from UP-Ayala Technohub". Thinking Pinoy. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
- Cabuenas, Jon Viktor (January 19, 2020). "Panelo wants UP Ayala Technohub lease reviewed". GMA News and Public Affairs. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
- Dumlao, Doris (January 20, 2020). "Ayala Land bares facts on Technohub deal: P4B in lease to UP". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
- Cabuenas, John Viktor (5 October 2017). "BCDA says it offered Thinking Pinoy's RJ Nieto consultancy post, but it was rejected". GMA News. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
- Fabunan, Sara Susanne (11 October 2017). "RJ Nieto, 'Thinking Pinoy' blogger, quits DFA job". The Manila Standard. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
- "Rounding up the President's celebrity appointees". The Manila Times. July 15, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- Placido, Dharel (May 10, 2017). "Duterte on Uson appointment: 'Utang na loob ko 'yan sa kanya'". ABS CBN News. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- "Duterte supporter readies libel case vs Pinoy Ako Blog writer". Philippine Star. October 16, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- "Pinoy Ako Blog founder files complaint vs Sass Sasot, RJ Nieto". CNN Philippines. March 14, 2018. Retrieved April 4, 2018.