“Steve Vespera, Esq.” has managed to have at least a dozen of his letters to the editor published in this paper, the latest just last week, viciously lashing out at Chief Justice Renato Corona. That is a remarkable feat: Hundreds of letters are sent to this paper begging to be printed. Although with an arrogant and self-righteous style, “Vespera’s” letters show such extensive knowledge of Philippine law that these read as if written by a Supreme Court associate justice mad at Corona.
These letters have been circulated by fans in cyberspace, even reported as written by an “Inquirer columnist.” Others have devoted their letters angrily debunking “Vespera’s” arguments.
However, “Steve Y. Vespera, Esq.” does not exist.
It is an alias obviously used by the black-ops operators of President Aquino to hurl dirt against the Chief Justice. “Vespera” has been this administration’s most successful duplicity foisted on readers of the country’s biggest and most respected newspaper.
As I explained last week, the first step to determine whether a name or an e-mail address is authentic or not is to check if there is any reference to it in the Internet, using the usual search engines. “People-search” has become a booming Internet business, with websites such as pipl.com, radaris.com, and 123people.com able to scour, for a fee, billions of public and private documents.
No search engine reports a “Steve Vespera.” No Filipino even has that surname; only a handful of people on the planet do, with none with the first name Steve or its variations. The closest to that name—perhaps not a coincidence at all—is an “Eduardo Visperas,” who is an undersecretary at the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
A “Stephen Vespera,” though, has a Facebook account, but it’s so sketchy and inactive that it was obviously set up only to have a fictitious digital presence. The only info there: “I am a businessman. Studied at the Ateneo de Manila University. Lives in Catmon, Cebu City.”
There is no Vespera ever studying at the Ateneo, none ever living in Cebu—or the entire country.
The Philippines actually is well-wired, and you’d find your name in digital databases. For instance, whitepages.ph lists only two Lacierdas, with one, an Edwin, living at “154-B Josefa Dr SJ.”
There is no Vespera listed with whatever first name in these white pages.
Mr. Aquino’s black-ops agents changed their minds on what profile to give Vespera. A “businessman” writing about legal issues won’t be as credible as a lawyer. So they put “Esq.” after his name to make him a “Fil-Am lawyer” in the US, practicing in “Syracuse, NY.” That is a blunder, since there are official lists of lawyers here and in the US.
There is no Steve, Stephen, or Steven Vespera in any roster of lawyers in the US and in the Philippines.
Attempts were made by third parties to contact “Vespera” through his purported e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. No reply at all.
“Steve Vespera, Esq.” is a fabricated name, obviously used by Mr. Aquino’s camp in its efforts to vilify Corona in one of the most ruthless and most well-funded black propaganda campaign against an individual I’ve seen in my years as a journalist.
Your guess would be as good as mine: Writing as “Vespera” could be presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, who is a lawyer; Ricky Carandang and his team of hacks he gifted with top-of-the-line Macbooks last year; the bumbling yet arrogant prosecution spokesmen; or a Supreme Court justice who desperately wants Corona removed.
However, there is a clue who the prime suspect using the “Vespera” alias could be. A website posted in 2008 an e-mailed angry comment against then President Arroyo. The sender identified himself as “S.L. Monsanto/Steve Vespera.”
“S.L. Monsanto” is a lawyer, one Stephen L. Monsanto who has managed to get six of his letters published in this newspaper, with the same arrogant and vicious writing style as “Vespera’s.” Last year he was lashing out at Ombudsman Merceditas Guiterrez. When Corona’s trial started, he raged against the Chief Justice. When Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago lambasted the prosecution panel, Monsanto pilloried her, even insulting her that in the International Court of Justice where she will be a member of, she would instead be “the egregious representation of the best criminal mind our country has to offer the world.”
Monsanto is from the Ateneo Law School Class of 1974, which is, quite intriguingly, Chief Justice Corona’s class. Other than his sudden emergence as a prolific writer spewing venom against the Chief Justice, Monsanto has had an unremarkable legal career, reportedly the least successful in that class.
Is “Vespera” simply Monsanto’s alias he uses, so he can have this paper print more of his venom? Why has a mediocre lawyer like Monsanto who has never figured in any social or political crusade before suddenly taken on the task of removing the Chief Justice as his life’s mission? Are “Monsanto” and “Vespera” merely pseudonyms Mr. Aquino’s propaganda machine uses?
If “Vespera” got away with a dozen letters against Corona published, Mr. Aquino’s other operators have most probably also succeeded doing so using the same modus operandi in other media venues to make it appear that their propaganda were sentiments of ordinary people.
If those calling for the lynching of Corona hide in aliases either because they are cowards, paid hacks, or because they don’t believe in what they are writing, would you believe their babble?
If Mr. Aquino’s camp already has the support of mainstream media, if it can buy expensive full-page ads against Corona, and if the President himself rails against the Chief Justice, yet it still resorts to spurious letters to the editor, would you still believe it has moral ascendancy?