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Philippine officials back on media after bad wine tweet

MANILA, December 9, 2010 (AFP) – Philippine officials are free to use social networking media again, President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman said Thursday, ending a crackdown arising from Twitter jokes about bad Vietnamese wine.

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

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

Other comments attributed to her included: “Crossing the speedy motorcycle laden streets of Hanoi is one of the easiest ways to die”, and: “Sorry, but there are no handsome men here #vietnam”.

Mislang later deleted the controversial tweets and apologised.

Carandang said Thursday that his staff had resumed posting tweets on the microblogging site as well as on Facebook after the government imposed strict guidelines on all government officials doing so.

“As we have said before you are no longer a private person. So when you tweet or write on Facebook you have to assume that public (is) thinking that you are unofficially representing government,” Carandang told reporters.

“Your statements or actions must correspond to that thinking.”

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

The finance ministry has also urged Facebook users to blow the whistle on erring officials and report tax cheats.

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