Anti-Estrada movement lives in cyberspace
By Joey G. Alarilla
AS the age of electronic democracy finally lives up to its hype, the Internet is becoming an important battleground for the groundswell of opposition to President Estrada, whose administration is now facing its worst crisis in the face of jueteng payoff allegations and the
ghost of scandals past and present.
And, in cyberspace, everyone can hear you scream in protest.
This is not only shown by the deluge of feedback and opinion poll responses that the INQUIRER's online edition at www.inquirer.net and its Bad Bets Jueteng Special Edition has generated, but also the different Philippine websites monitoring the jueteng scandal or calling for President Estrada's resignation or impeachment.
Take, for example, Pinoy.TV at www.pinoy.tv, which was the first local site to focus on online audio and video streaming a few months ago. Like ChannelOne.TV at www.channelone.tv, these sites aim to be online news channels, offering audio and video coverage of the jueteng scandal.
Of course, cyberspace is also being used in support of the beleaguered Chief Executive. While President Estrada probably does not spend time surfing the Net himself, www.erap.com does try to present the official online news and views from Malacañang.
Following the eruption (or Eraption, as the case may be) of the present political crisis as a result of Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson's accusations, the ImpeachErapNow site at www.impeacherapnow.com was born.
The newly set up site openly calling for Mr. Estrada's impeachment features electronic documents, an open letter from activist and intellectual leader Ed Olaguer, and links to the INQUIRER's online articles and Bad Bets website.
Another political site is the People's Action to Remove Erap or Pare site at www.geocities.com/tfdp_ncr/. Set up by a coalition of activist groups and nongovernment organizations, this site not only advocates Estrada's removal, whether resignation or
impeachment, but also vehemently rejects Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as his successor.
"She cannot be part of the solution. A more likely scenario is that in replacing Erap she will take over as the Queen of Jueteng," the site states, referring to Macapagal's alleged close
association with jueteng operators herself.
Another interesting site is Erap Resign Central at www.alamat.com/baylans/erap_resign.html. This is actually an online movement launched by the people behind the local Alamat Comics Group that has gained a following in the country, creating quite a stir among comic book aficionados a few years back. The group has released "Baylans: Hack the Culture," a three-issue cyberpunk/dark fantasy comic book now available at Comic Quest outlets.
As the synopsis posted on the site relates, the story takes place in the year 2004, two years after a successful coup d'etat against the Estrada administration. In a Philippines once again under martial law, the hero, a hacker named Jonas Arcanghel, discovers an artifact that prophesies the return of what is supposed to be the first Filipino nation--an ancient Malayan civilization whose society is based on magic.
For the less arcane, check out http://eraption.iwarp.com for the Erap Scandals and Brouhahas page, which details the numerous Estrada administration scandals that have plagued the nation. This site has been around long before the jueteng scandal. Other anti-Erap sites include the Erap Sucks Page at www.geocities.com/erapsucks/main.htm, which leads me to believe that Erap and Mr. Belvedere from the old TV series were actually separated at birth.
Of course, this is hardly an exhaustive list of the different Erap-related sites that have existed for some time now or that have popped up recently. Still, as the protest movement against President Estrada grows, one thing's for sure—Philippine cyberspace will also loudly echo the people's voice.