SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go cited how mis- and disinformation can pose a serious threat to democracy, appealing to the Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media Sen. Robinhood “Robin” Padilla and to his fellow lawmakers to work together for a better and strengthened access to accurate and relevant information.
On Monday, August 15, during the public hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, Go, who is a member of the said committee, underscored the crucial role of mass media in nation building and bringing the people closer to the government.
“Public information is one of the most important keys towards an effective participatory governance, and a smooth functioning democracy,” he stressed.
“It helps to better equip the public by providing the necessary information to increase their level of awareness and understanding of various government programs and policies. Importante rin po dito ang pag-pursue ng isang accountable at transparent na gobyerno,” continued Go.
According to a survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) that was released in February, 69% of Filipinos believe that the circulation of fake news can result in major complications. The existence of fake news has started even in the olden days but given how technology made it easier for it to spread rapidly, the ramifications and effects of fake news are considered to be problematic by the majority of Filipinos.
The definition of misinformation and disinformation are synonymous — often false or misleading content or information that are shared from one to another. However, misinformation is shared without the intention to deceive while disinformation is purposely shared to cause harm.
In this regard, Go cited that the proliferation of even just a simple piece of false information can make a significant change to the society, emphasizing how vital it is for every Filipino to identify mis- and disinformation in different media platforms, including television, radio, and print, among others.
“Information, on the other hand, is a very powerful tool. It can be used for noble purposes, but in some instances, it is used for a precarious agenda to malign and willfully deceive others. We have seen lives taken, wars take place, and even nations fall apart because of mishandled information,” stressed Go.
“With information easily spread through electronic media, cases of misinformation, distortion of truth, and even fabrication of facts have become increasingly rampant. Sa katunayan pa nga po ay mas mabilis pang kumalat ang mga maling balita kaysa mga makabuluhang impormasyon na talagang makakatulong sa ating bansa,” he continued.
Just recently, Go expressed his support to a proposed measure seeking penalties against those spreading “fake news”, saying, “Agree po ako dito, panahon na po na tuldukan ‘yung fake news.
Panahon na po na bigyan natin ng ngipin na maparusahan po’yung nagpapakalat ng fake news. To unmask all people na nagpapakalat ng fake news, na nagtatago sa fake news. Kawawa naman po ‘yung mga kababayan natin na gusto lang pong mamuhay nang tahimik, gustong mabuhay nang merong peace of mind na hindi nababastos, hindi nasasaktan.”
Concluding his speech, Senator Go called on his fellow senators to coordinate closely and work hand-in-hand to efficiently combat fake news and ensure that the Filipino people are fed with truthful and significant information.
“Therefore, Mr. Chair, and everyone with us today, it is high time that we in the government work closely together and take these issues seriously. Napakaimportante po na hindi lang natin basta maiparating ang mga mahahalagang impormasyon sa publiko, ngunit kailangan na maipaunawa natin sa kanila ang tunay na kabuluhan ng mga impormasyon na ito sa kanilang pang-araw-araw na buhay,” urged Go.
“With that, nais ko pong pasalamatan ang ating Chairman, at sa lahat ng mga dumalo sa briefing na ito, for taking the initiative in continuing our pursuit for a transparent and accountable government,” he concluded.