Firebrand Filipino senator heats up virtual world, too

Michael Lim Ubac in Manila/Philippine Daily Inquirer
Asia News Network

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Love her or hate her, Philippine Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has invaded the virtual world.

She is now a trending topic on the Internet, and the rise of her temper seems to reflect a rise in the number of her followers on the two top social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter.

Agog over Santiago's famous temper, the "netizens"-bloggers, Twitter and Facebook users-are looking forward to the resumption on Monday of the impeachment trial of Philippine Chief Justice Renato Corona after an 11-day break.

Like a widely watched telenovela (soap opera), the trial begins its Season 2 as it were, with the defense panel's turn to present its rebuttal following the prosecution's sudden decision to rest its case.

As of Sunday afternoon, Santiago's Twitter followers have reached 132,663, while her Facebook fans have generated 102,000 "friends."

The highly charged hearing on February 29-during which lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre incurred the ire of the feisty senator for covering his ears while she was lambasting the prosecution's handling of the case-went exactly like a cliffhanger season-ender. The audience lapped it all up.

What the public witnessed that day was courtroom drama. Aguirre-the defence lawyer for the family of former Senator Freddie Webb in the Vizconde massacre trial-later apologised, missing a jail term for his behaviour.

The Santiago-Aguirre squabble has launched a thousand Facebook posts, tweets, blogs and memes. Some of the comments were funny, others downright mean and some may be considered propaganda.

Santiago is not a stranger to attack and praise. Every time she opens her mouth, she earns for herself fans or critics.

She did invite criticisms when she used the word gago (fool) to describe the prosecution's supposed ineptness. She readily acceded to the motion of a House prosecutor, Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Fariñas, to have the word stricken from the record.

In the virtual world, Santiago generates as much heat. Online, her followers and friends-who call themselves as "Team Miriam"-are a force to reckon with.

Her followers and critics are a mixed group of celebrities, students, professionals, pundits, social activists, journalists, wannabe pick-up artists and possible spambots riding on Santiago's popularity.

Below are some interesting tweets from them:

@iceburner80: why are we making atty aguirre look like a hero? what he did was wrong period, @senmiriam may be over the top but evrythng she said ws ryt.

@arianelo41: I followed Sen. Miriam on Twitter and since then, my nose just keeps on bleeding ... XD

@borgymagdangal: In fairness, I love Miriam Santiago. But I agree with Ping (Sen. Panfilo Lacson) that her behaviour toward the prosecution team was excessive and wrong.

@KrislyKreme: Everytime I remember Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago saying "WAH!", I can't help but laugh. =)))

@Peepops_Mom: "Gago" and "epal" are so NOT plastic words that we commonly use. So what's the big fuss if the fiery Sen. Miriam used it (even in public)?!

@Kikaykcnrs: Judge not that you will shall not be judged.

@zedrix118: Sen Miriam berates the prosecution, and right away a Jesuit priest decides that she is worthy of the fires of hell? How @#$%&*)!!!