Advertising boss apologizes for callous post on earthquake-stricken Mindanaoans

November 6, 2019 - 9:58 AM
Davao City earthquake
Rescue workers assist a resident evacuating from a condominium building that sustained heavy damage after a 6.5 magnitude earthquake in Davao City, Mindanao, Philippines, October 31, 2019. (Reuters/Lean Daval Jr)

An advertising executive apologized for her insensitive tweet after an official from the Presidential Communications Operations Office denounced her for saying Davaoenos deserve to be struck by earthquakes.

Yoly Ong, a marketing expert who co-founded one of the biggest advertising companies in the country, said in a deleted tweet that Davaoenos should “pray and ask for forgiveness.”

Davao is the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte, the first president who hails from Mindanao.

“DDS: DAVAO DISASTER SURVIVORS. Hindi pa ba NIYO ma-gets? Gusto na kayong lamunin ng lupa. Magdasal na kayo at humingi ng patawad. Quiboloy (Pastor Apollo Quiboloy) can’t stop earthquakes. He can only stop KAPA. Duts should seriously prepare for the afterlife. It’s getting hot, hotter, hottest,” Ong wrote.

Her tweet irked some Filipinos online, including PCOO Assistant Secretary Mon Cualoping.

“We, from Davao and Mindanao, feel the pain caused by the words of Yoly Villanueva Ong. We are all Filipinos, politics aside. Ms. Ong, based on Google search, says that she represents your marketing communications campaigns,” Cualoping said.

Cualoping also tagged Vice President Leni Robredo, claiming that she was affiliated with Ong.

Robredo’s team, however, said they are not connected with the advertising executive and that the vice president herself disapproved of the remark.

Madam Vice President Leni Gerona Robredo,We, from Davao and Mindanao, feel the pain caused by the words of Yoly…

Posted by Mon Cualoping on Saturday, November 2, 2019


While Ong used to work with Robredo’s communications teams during the 2016 campaign as an adviser, she clarified that she has “never been part of the OVP (Office of the Vice-President).”

“May I clarify that I have NEVER been part of the OVP. Apologies to VPL (Vice President Leni). It was not my intention to hurt the Mindanaoans. My tweet was directed ONLY at DDS (Duterte diehard supporters) not at ALL Davaoeños. The intention was to make them think about the malice they do.. like now,” she wrote.

Ong also released an official statement after the firestorm, admitting that she has “allowed” her politics to cloud her “better judgment” in the situation.

“My recent tweet on the Mindanao earthquakes has offended the sensitivities of some people. Mea Culpa. I have allowed my politics to cloud my better judgment. For this, I apologize profoundly to the Mindanaoans,” she said.

“People who are close to me know how much I love our country – every part of it, from Aparri to Jolo. They know how I pray, sympathize and help disaster victims as much as I can, including the victims of the Mindanao earthquakes,” Ong added.

She also stressed that she does not belong to Robredo’s office, as well as the Liberal Party or “any other political party.”

“Neither am I a member of the LP or any other political party,” Ong said.

“I pray that the Mindanaoans will accept my apology. And I hope this puts a closure on this issue,” she added.

The Robredo connection? Non-existent, says OVP

Robredo’s camp, meanwhile, said the vice-president has sent a direct message to Cualoping and clarified that Ong does not work for her.

Lawyer Barry Gutierrez, Robredo’s spokesperson, said in a statement as released on Facebook:

“The Vice President already replied via a direct message to Assistant Secretary Cualoping stating that Ms. Ong has never been employed at the OVP (Office of the Vice President); the Vice President is totally not in favor of the indicated post on the Mindanao earthquake; and this is not the time for politicking but for unity in the face of a national tragedy.”

[A] Statement of OVP Spokesperson Atty Barry Gutierrez on Social Media Posts Regarding the Mindanao EarthquakesOn…

Posted by VP Leni Robredo on Monday, November 4, 2019


Gutierrez also questioned Cualoping’s motives in linking Robredo’s name to the post.

“The Vice President replied directly to Assistant Secretary Mon Cualoping, and not in a public post, precisely because she did not want the tragedy that has affected so many of our fellow Filipinos to be further politicized,” he said.

“It is apparent, however, that some quarters are determined to use this to attack Vice President Robredo, even as the OVP is engaged in efforts to provide assistance to those displaced by the earthquakes,” Gutierrez added.

He said that they should focus on helping the disaster-stricken Mindanaoans instead of participating in “political mudslinging.”

Last week, Robredo’s office through the “Angat Buhay” program extended help to the affected communities in North Cotabato after a 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck the region.

There’s time to set aside politics

Shortly after Ong shared her now-deleted tweet against Davaoenos, some Filipinos pointed out that political beliefs should be set aside in terms of helping the people of Mindanao.

“Tutulong kami. Sa DDS man o hindi. Dahil ‘yon ang tama at dapat. Lalo na kung walang kondisyon at walang hinihintay na kapalit. ‘Di ba ganyan naman talaga magmalasakit ang Pilipino?” a Twitter user wrote.

A critic of the administration who reportedly hails from Mindanao responded to another insensitive tweet of Ong that is still in her profile, where she excluded Duterte’s supporters from her appeal.

“The Mindanaoans who are not DDS need all the help and prayers. Choose the relief orgs that you can trust not to steal your contribution. Bangon mabubuting tao ng Mindanao,” Ong tweeted on November 3.

Twitter user @tessgarcia responded by saying that her words are not helpful.

Daughter of Mindanao tweet
Screenshot of a tweet by Twitter user @tessgarcia, a user reportedly from Mindanao who is a vocal critic of the administration. (Screenshot by Interaksyon)

Last week, Mindanao suffered from two powerful earthquakes that left at least 16 people dead and 403 injured, based on the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

A magnitude 6.6 was recorded on October 29 while a magnitude 6.5 was recorded on October 31.

The tremors toppled several buildings, large structures and residential houses, effectively displacing thousands of locals.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana previously declared that Mindanao is suffering from a humanitarian crisis following the earthquakes.

Some institutions currently accepting donations are the Philippine Red Cross, Gabriela, the University of the Philippines, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Davao University, among others.