Strict Twitter crackdown on officials

2010-11-09 14:30

Manila - Twitter jokes about bad wine and a lack of handsome men in Vietnam by one of Philippine President Benigno Aquino's speechwriters has led to a social media crackdown on government officials.

The Philippines said on Tuesday it had approved a set of guidelines to govern the use of social media sites by government employees after the embarrassing gaffe by a presidential staffer.

Executive staff were temporarily barred from using Twitter after assistant cabinet secretary Maria Carmen Mislang complained about Vietnamese wine, men and its motorcycle-clogged streets during a state visit two weeks ago.

"The wine sucks @rickycarandang," Mislang had tweeted about a state dinner, in response to an apparent query from her immediate boss, Aquino spokesperson Ricky Carandang.

She also reportedly posted that there were no handsome local men in the host country, and likening crossing a busy Hanoi street to assisted suicide, press reports said. Mislang later deleted the controversial tweets and apologised.

The guidelines will be applicable to all departments, agencies and bureaus in Aquino's four-month-old government, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

"It's a list of do's and dont's and there just needs to be a consultation among all agencies on how to properly go about it," Valte told reporters.

Aquino has championed the use of social media as a means of bringing his government closer to the public.

He has also brought his anti-corruption fight to cyberspace, with the finance department urging Facebook users to blow the whistle on erring officials and report tax cheats.