Senators react to Pulse survey saying 90 percent of Filipinos are victims of fake news

October 12, 2022 Camille P. Balagtas 551 views

Asserting that misinformation and disinformation leads to bad decisions that affect public interests, safety, order and peoples’ lives, SENATOR Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada said that he finds “disturbing” the results of the latest survey of polling firm Pulse Asia on the prevalence of fake news in the country which shows a high number of Filipinos acknowledging its severity.

“Misinformation and disinformation should be taken seriously. Those behind it should be held accountable for their actions. Hindi tama na hayaan nating lumaganap ang mga iresponsableng balita at impormasyon dahil ito ay magdudulot ng maling desisyon at opinion sa ating mga kababayan,” said Estrada, who is the author of Senate Bill No. 1296 proposing the criminalization of fake news dissemination in the country.

“Bad decisions affect public interests, safety, order, and people’s lives. And bad choices stemming from false information cost money and unnecessary wastage of precious human, natural, financial, and time resources. Hindi natin dapat hayaan ito sa panahon na may kinakaharap na krisis ang ating bayan,” Estrada stressed.

The latest Pulse Asia survey showed that 90% of adult Filipinos have read, heard, and watched fake political news, listing mass media and national-level politicians as among the leading sources of fake news about government and politics.

Estrada said that while the Constitution guarantees free speech and press, this should not be abused. “It’s the duty of every Filipino to contribute to the development and welfare of the country, to uphold and obey the laws,” he said.

Estrada noted the platforms in which fake news is peddled to the public, as well as the role of social media influencers, bloggers, and vloggers in the spread of disinformation in the country as shown in the survey.

“This is the reason why we intend to establish a policy to provide our citizens with a means for their protection from online falsehood and manipulation. We hope to stop the proliferation of disinformation and misinformation on the internet by criminalizing fake news as a cybercrime,” the lawmaker said in explaining the need to enact SB 1296.

Estrada said the Senate should conduct immediate deliberations on his proposed measure to address the widespread proliferation of false information.

“Iba na ang panahon ngayon. With social media being the vehicle upon which fake news and false information are widely and exponentially disseminated, where people now rely on social media on a constant basis for information, news, entertainment, research, inspiration and guidance, and even for personal relationships, we cannot help but be overwhelmed by what we read and whether it’s true and credible. Hindi tama na panatilihin natin at palakihin natin ang kasalukuyang henerasyon ng mga Pilipino sa kultura ng fake news,” the senator said.

Senator Nancy Binay expressed a different view saying that legislation is not necessary.

She further said that the he Constitution guarantees free speech, and it would be ironic to regulate or restrict speech or other expression just because of a difference in opinion.

Binay agreed that fake news is an uncontrolled virus.

“In these times when every bit of information is unvetted and unverified, maraming naniniwala sa tsismis at mali-maling impormasyon. At kung walang magsasalita para iwasto ang mga maling impormasyong natatanggap ng publiko, paniguradong mananaig ang kasinungalingan,” she said.

Saying that even the so called informed and knowledgeable people such as the Media, academe, historians and even those in the private and public sectors are often victimized by fake news.

“Kaya we need people or even non-government watchdogs who can refute fake news publicly,” she stressed.

A program or campaign by the government together with the academe and the private sector can be put in place to fight fake news.

“Sa ganitong paraan, we know which and who to trust, and somehow put some sense of credibility to the information or news that we receive,” Sen. Binay said.