Who is Drew Olivar, and What is Wrong With Him?
We regret to inform you that Drew Olivar is now ubiquitous enough to be written about. Over the past two months, his name has persistently rung in the news, as if a tolling for the passing of basic decency.
Don't worry if you don't know who he is—up until recently, you really shouldn't have. He's apparently some sort of "blogger" and political pundit, because apparently this is what passes for political commentary these days. And we use the word "blogger" very loosely here, because apart from his personal Facebook page and a few scattered bylines, he doesn't seem to put much out.
But now, because he just won't go away and hide under a rock somewhere, we are burdened with the distinct displeasure of bringing you up to speed with his viral violations, which are symptomatic of the ills of political discourse in our country. At least five separate times in just these past couple of months, this nobody landed in the news for bad behavior. To wit:
Drew Olivar first emerged from the shadows when Mocha Uson's "Pepe-dede-ralismo" video came to light. In it, Olivar performed a lewd dance number to introduce a segment of Uson's game show about federalism, which was part of a series co-hosted by Olivar on Uson's Facebook page. Backlash was swift and unanimous—even the Palace, through Harry Roque, said Uson would "pay a very heavy price if she doesn't control herself." Olivar himself issued no sincere apology for this, and instead responded with an angry, unintelligible rant that has since been deleted. (As others have pointed out, it is now Olivar's unfortunate fate to be forever know as the "Pepe-dede-ralismo blogger"—though it is a fate that he of course brought upon himself.)
Then, as Olivar was shooting up to viral stardom for his dance moves, a dutiful netizen unearthed one of his old vlog entries, in which he unloads some vile accusations against Vice President Leni Robredo. In the video (which is really just him ranting to the camera), Olivar refers to the Vice President's 2017 trip to South Africa, and says she was busy having sex there instead of helping the Philippines. Because of his newfound fame, this video reached the Vice President herself, who said her legal team would look into pressing charges.
Sino na nga kasi si Drew Olivar? Siya nga po pala ito. Hindi ko na siguro kailangan pa i-describe ang ugali niya. ???? pic.twitter.com/viiJ8hCQeL— Jericho Rayel Timbol (@jerichorayel) August 6, 2018
About a month after that first wave of controversy subsided, Olivar managed to put his name in the news again by insulting the deaf community. Another public video showed Olivar mocking sign language and mimicking the way deaf people sound when they try to speak, as Uson laughed in the background. This was followed by a somber apology from both of them, but one that some advocacy groups refused to accept. It even became the subject of a criminal complaint against both Uson and Olivar.
Then, on the eve of September 21 (the anniversary of Ferdinand Marcos' declaration of martial law, on which protesters regularly flock to EDSA), Olivar posted a full-on bomb scare on Facebook: "Ay, nakakatakot naman mag-rally sa EDSA kasi may kumakalat na baka maulit daw 'yung pagbomba kagaya ng Plaza Miranda! Kung ako sa inyo, hindi na ako pupunta." This prompted the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) to file a complaint before the Department of Justice yesterday, citing violations of Cybercrime law and a Presidential Decree that prohibits the willful creation of any threat pertaining to bombs and explosives. For his part, Olivar made a good faith appeal, saying he was misled and that he only meant to warn people. Even Malacañang wouldn't buy that: Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated that neither Olivar's apology nor his pro-administration allegiance are enough to protect him from liability.
Then, just earlier this week, Olivar was slammed for encouraging student-activists at the University of the Philippines to commit suicide at the Oblation statue. An old vlog sees him ranting mindlessly and condemning student activism to the point of wishing them death. Once that old entry was brought to light, mental health advocates—and, well, normal people—were livid.
This, now, is the state of political discourse in our country: louts being loutish and going viral for it, then empowering other louts to do the same.
Count 'em: That's five controversial acts of idiocy in less than eight weeks. On average, Drew Olivar has gone viral more than once every two weeks, launching him into the awareness of the general public—and all he had to do was be an insufferable stooge. Thankfully, because of all the backlash, his previous Facebook posts have been hidden or otherwise removed, so at least for now, his existence has abated.
Still, Olivar's sudden rise to infamy is both fascinating and horrific. Before all this, he was just another pro-administration blogger spouting incendiary views using crass rhetoric—the likes of whom surely number in the thousands. Now, after joining Mocha Uson in a Facebook series and a DWIZ radio show (Tambayang Mocha at Drew—what could go wrong!), he's enjoying an unprecedented and undeserved share of the spotlight.
Why should we care who this guy is? Perhaps because as recently as three years ago, the same question could have been asked about Mocha Uson, or any number of self-appointed political bloggers out there. Uson, too was once a fledgling social media entity—though one who had established some standing for herself for being a sex-positive advocate for reproductive health. And now, she's a seated government official whose influence has grown to the point of being able launch more social media agitators from obscurity to stardom. This, now, is the state of political discourse in our country: louts being loutish and going viral for it, then empowering other louts to do the same.
Is there anything we can do about it? Perhaps not, because social media perpetuates controversy by its very design. But ignoring these deplorable personalities obviously doesn't work, so until the platforms themselves decide to change for the better, the best we can do is to continue calling these people out, even if it means paying them the attention they crave. One day, hopefully soon, we can turn the world right-side-up and restore discourse to its proper, polite, productive form. Until then Drew Olivar is the kind of guy we're going to have to put up with.