R. J. Nieto
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|Born||Rey Joseph P. Nieto|
January 26, 1984
|Pen name||Thinking Pinoy|
|Occupation||Blogger, Vlogger, Radio host, Columnist|
|Subject||Politics, Current Events, Public Affairs|
|Notable works||Thinking Pinoy|
Rey Joseph "RJ" P. Nieto is a pro-Duterte Filipino blogger known by his pen name "Thinking Pinoy" (lit. thinking Filipino), also the title of his blog focused on partisan politics. He has drawn controversies and faced legal consequences for spreading disinformation and his vocal support of President Duterte's polarizing policies and personal attacks against the latter's critics.
Work and education
Nieto currently serves as a co-host of the podcast of Karambola sa DWIZ 882, a radio and internet podcast program tackling political issues, together with Jonathan dela Cruz, Trixie Cruz Angeles, Conrad Banal and Larry Gadon.
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.
He worked as a reporter at the Sunstar Davao local newspaper in 2010.
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 sources. 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 (NUJP) 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 December 28, in his Manila Bulletin column and blog, Nieto claimed that Philippine mainstream media and journalists were spreading fake news for stating that an amendment to the United States Fiscal Year 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill included a prohibition on entry to the United States for foreign government officials that the U.S. Secretary of State had credible information to have been involved in the wrongful imprisonment of Senator Leila De Lima. Philippine Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo however confirmed on December 29 in a radio interview that he had spoken with Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel "Babes" Romualdez the entry ban was true. While the approved U.S. Appropriations Act of 2020, signed on Dec. 20 by U.S. President Donald Trump does not itself expressly mention the ban, the act's accompanying explanatory statement in the Division G section states that U.S. Federal Government entities are directed to comply with the directives and instructions of the reports accompanying the State Department appropriation bills of both the House and Senate. This includes the U.S. Senate Committee Report 116-126 which states: "Prohibition on Entry.--The Secretary of State shall apply subsection (c) to foreign government officials about whom the Secretary has credible information have been involved in the wrongful imprisonment of:... ...(2) Senator Leila de Lima who was arrested in the Philippines in 2017." On January 22, 2020, Senator Ronaldo "Bato" dela Rosa confirmed that his travel visa to the United States had indeed been canceled.
- 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.
- On March 2, 2020, Nieto claimed that Senator Franklin Drilon fell asleep for five to ten seconds during a February 27, 2020 interview with CNN Philippines anchor Pinky Webb. Contrary to Nieto's claim, Drilon was reading documents in front of him and was not sleeping. According to Webb herself on her Twitter account, "Here’s what happened. As I was laying the premise for my question, I saw Sen Drilon look down at the documents he had on the table. I did not see him fall asleep."
Inciting violence against journalists
On November 3, 2017, Nieto on his radio program Karambola on DWIZ urged then Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque to throw a concrete hollow block at journalist Pia Ranada. The NUJP denounced Nieto for threatening Ranada on air and added that Nieto may have committed a crime. The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP - Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines) reprimanded Nieto for making a personal attack against Ranada and found him guity of violating the Broadcast Code, in which Article 4, Section 1 states: "Personal attacks, that is, attacks on the honesty, integrity or personal qualities of an identified person, institution or group on matters that have no bearing on public interest are prohibited." The KBP also called out Aliw Broadcasting Corporation which runs DWIZ for allowing Nieto to go on air even if he lacked KBP accreditation.
In 2018, Nieto was also indicted for libel for posting on his blog that U.S. President Donald Trump called former opposition senator Antonio Trillanes a narco or drug lord. Nieto filed a not guilty plea and refused to comment on the case, telling reporters, "Let's just wait for the trial."
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.
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.
- Corrales, Nestor (November 7, 2017). "Pro-Duterte bloggers slam Roque for defending mainstream media". Philippine Daily Inquirer.
- "State-sponsored hate: The rise of the pro-Duterte bloggers". Rappler. August 18, 2017.
- "Karambola sa DWIZ Facebook Livestream". Karambola. DWIZ. Retrieved March 4, 2020.
- Nieto, Rey Joseph. "SUNSTAR Author Results for: Rey Joseph Nieto". Sunstar Philippines. Sunstar Davao. Retrieved March 4, 2020.
- "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.
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- "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.
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- 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 (December 28, 2019). "Sen. De Lima, official docs show US entry ban is as fake as fake news gets". Manila Bulletin.
- Romero, Alexis (December 29, 2019). "Palace: Provision barring De Lima jailers from US actually exists". The Philippine Star.
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- "Division G - Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2020" (PDF). House.Gov. U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
- "search"%3A%5b"appropriations"%5d}&overview=closed "S. Rept. 116-126 - DEPARTMENT OF STATE, FOREIGN OPERATIONS, AND RELATED PROGRAMS APPROPRIATIONS BILL, 2020". Congress.Gov. United States Congress. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
- "VERA FILES FACT SHEET: US entry ban true; state secretary to determine De Lima accusers to be barred from US". Vera Files. December 30, 2019.
- Tomacruz, Sofia (December 29, 2019). "Not 'fake news': Documents show U.S. sanctions vs De Lima accusers". Rappler.
- Rey, Aika (January 22, 2020). "Dela Rosa confirms U.S. visa canceled". Rappler.
- Nieto, Rey Joseph (January 18, 2020). "UP Naming Binarat? UP gets only ₱22/sqm monthly from UP-Ayala Technohub". Thinking Pinoy. Archived from the original on January 21, 2020. 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.
- Nieto, Rey Joseph (March 2, 2020). "FACT CHECK: DID SENATOR DRILON FALL ASLEEP IN A CNN PHILIPPINES INTERVIEW?". Thinking Pinoy.
- "VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Jay Sonza, RJ Nieto help propagate wrong claim that Drilon snoozed in CNN PH interview". Vera Files. March 7, 2020.
- Webb, Pinky (March 2, 2020). "Here's what happened". Twitter. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
- "DWIZ host incites violence against Rappler journalist". Rappler. November 3, 2017.
- "NUJP: Nieto crossed line with 'hollow block' remark vs journo". The Philippine Star. November 6, 2017.
- "KBP reprimands RJ Nieto for 'personal attack' vs Rappler reporter". Rappler. August 23, 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.
- "'Thinking Pinoy' blogger RJ Nieto indicted for libel". ABS-CBN News. September 10, 2018.
- Movido, Angel (October 10, 2018). "'Thinking Pinoy' blogger pleads not guilty to libel". ABS-CBN News.
- 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.