(Un)common Sense by James Veloso
(Un)Common Sense

Social media has become the new ‘Tulfo-han’

Apr 7, 2023, 12:30 AM
James Veloso

James Veloso


“Ipapa-Tulfo kita!” let’s face it, has indeed entered the Filipino vocabulary.

When someone says it, it usually means having his enemy face the “instant justice” provided by the Tulfo brothers, who capitalized on the Filipinos’ longing for speedy action to their problems.

I have noted, long ago, that the reason the Tulfo brothers and their copycats (and predecessors like Ted Failon or Kaye Dacer) have become so popular is not only our broken justice system, but our broken complaints system as well.

When we complain to government agencies through the proper channels, our complaints usually gather dust or gets locked up in drawers for long periods of time. Follow-ups on complaints would only result in more promises of fixing the issues we’ve brought up, causing many to lose all hope of their complaints ever being resolved.

Only when the Tulfos would call up government officials on live radio and television would they even muster the balls to really fix the issues – and I guess the fact that they’re being seen on television as “action men” is enough flattery for these officials.


That was the very issue the Duterte administration tried to solve with its 8888 Citizens’ Complaint Center, one of the popular landmark programs of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

Instead of going to the media and potentially causing a scandal, citizens can now call the government directly through a hotline for their complaints of poor and abusive government services.

But did the 8888 hotline actually solve all the issues brought to it?

A Philippine Daily Inquirer article published in 2020 cited a report from the Commission on Audit (COA) stating that while the hotline did exceed its target for calls attended by 269 percent, it “abandoned” over 792,000 calls.

What the COA means is that these calls were abandoned while in queue or did not make it from interactive voice response (IVRs) to actual responding individuals or call takers (CTs).

In short, they failed to make it to the actual persons who could record the complaint and forward them to the proper authorities.


Nowadays, with the Tulfos in government service and their brand of instant justice becoming an overused cliché, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become the new platform for Filipinos to rant about their complaints.

And why not?

Social media has a far wider reach than mainstream media, which heightens the tendency of some issues to trend or become “viral.” And when an issue becomes viral, one can be sure that government officials will step in and take a bite of the publicity.

The trouble, unfortunately, with social media complaints is that they are often so one-sided – the side of the aggrieved party – that we sometimes fail to see the entire picture.

The result? The other party gets bashed by netizens who cannot see (and wouldn’t even bother to know) the whole story.

And that, I believe, makes it harder for concerned officials to fix whatever problem’s are being presented.

One thing I’ve learned in school is that the first step in the so-called “scientific method” of solving problems is to identify the problem.

But if we can’t even find a proper way of identifying that problem, how the heck can we be assured that these issues will be resolved properly?

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