Nas Daily said Monday claims made against over the botched online academy of revered tattoo artist Whang-Od were "fake", as he rejected allegations that he was clickbaiting Filipinos with his content.
In a six-minute video on Facebook, the Palestinian-Israeli vlogger defended himself by countering claims made by Louise Mabulo, the 22-year-old founder of social enterprise The Cacao Project.
"There is no clickbaiting here. There is no 'put Philippines' in the title crap. This is us, on the ground doing the work to show you the bright side of the Philippines," he said, highlighting how he was able to help the country through his vlog.
According to the vlogger whose real name is Nuseir Yassin, the partnership they were supposed to have with Mabulo did not push through because it was a "fake" story to begin with.
"On paper, it was supposed to be a non-profit that helps farmers. In reality, it's a for-profit that exploits farmers. We said we cannot do this video in this video in good conscience," he said, noting that the people who believed Mabulo's "fake news" were the same ones claiming they used Whang-od.
Yassin said his team secures permission for everything they do. "We worked with the family directly and got their consent. We made sure to support them during these difficult times. We did all of these as an act of support, not an act of exploitation," he said.
Gracia Palicas, the granddaughter who first brought attention to the issue, did not really deny the existence of the signed contract. What she complained about was that her 104-year-old grandmother "did not understand what the translators were saying".
The permission Nas Daily got was not enough, said UP Diliman Anthropology Professor Nestor Castro, as according to Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, the use of indigenous peoples' knowledge for commercial purposes requires the consent of an entire tribe, not just the family.
The agreement should also be written in English and the local Kinalingga language, with a representative from the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) as witness.
Without pointing out these faults, Yassin said, "That's why we paused Nas Academy for now to work with NCIP to make sure everything is legal and everything is okay because we care."
"Don't get me wrong. We're not perfect. We make mistakes. But our intentions are pure," he said.
Yassin said nothing would change on his side and that he'd continue to support the Philippines, revealing plans of opening a country office that would create "hundreds of jobs" through videos that inspire.
"My only request: when you make an opinion you should not make it base off fake news. You should seek the truth and nothing but the truth," he said.