Press Release
January 30, 2018

Transcript of Sen. Grace Poe's Closing Statement
Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media
Hearing on Fake News
Senate Session Hall
30 January 2018

Noon, mga chismosa at chismoso lang ang nagkakalat ng maling balita. Buti pa 'yon napapagod at hindi ganoon karami ang kapitbahay na pwedeng pagchismisan. Ngayon, daig pa ng fake news ang mga naturang chismoso at chismosa sa paninira sapagkat sa isang click lang, milyon ang maaaring makaalam.

The weaponization of social media certainly is a new development that the framers of the Constitution, even the most recent one in 1987 could not have foreseen.

Parang hindi na nga tamang tawagin natin ang problema na ito na fake news. It is misinformation and disinformation, it is disrespect perhaps. To misinform is to inadvertently share false information; to disinform is to deliberately create and share information known to be false. This is what experts termed as "misinformation and disinformation of our ecosystem".

Bloggers, although they have a right to criticize, do not have the right to misinform. Opinions passed off as news are as deadly as lies.

Lalo na kung public official pa. Public officials, by the nature of their functions, should expect public scrutiny the moment they step into office. Mismong sa RA 6713 sinasabi na 'to engage in the private practice of a profession unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided that practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with their official functions.

Public office is a public trust. Dapat naman talaga napupuna ng mga mamamayan kaming mga naninilbihan. Bawal ang balat sibuyas sa serbisyo publiko. At lalo nang bawal ang sinungaling. Hindi dapat tayo ang promotor ng misinformation at disinformation. Tayo dapat ang nangunguna sa paglaban dito.

Ganunpaman, gusto man nating burahin ang lahat ng misinformation-disinformation, we should be very careful in trying to regulate or criminalize any speech.

With fake news threatening our daily realities, I believe that legislative solutions exist. Isang mainam na solusyon ang edukasyon at patuloy na kampanya para sa tamang partisipasyon sa cyberspace. Media literacy is the best long-term solution but it should not just be the government. We are grateful for all the private entities, particularly those coming from the media, that teach the netizens how to distinguish real from false information.

Titingnan rin natin kung anong accountability ng may mga kapangyarihan na pigilin ang fake news from the source, such as social media sites. Maybe we can ask from them more transparency in their procedure for takedown, because ultimately it's their platform that dictates what to show or hide on our feeds.

It's also time that we encourage people to use the existing laws and institutions like the NBI Cybercrime Division already in place. With technology, we can fight back abuses in technology.

On this note, upon motion of Senator Pacquiao, we will issue subpoenas to Facebook, Google, and Mr. Cocoy Dayao. Also from some of the suggestions of our resource persons, we will invite for our next hearing the two telecommunications providers--Globe and Smart--and upon the recommendation of Sen. Nancy we will invite the DICT.

We need to look into setting parameters for official government platforms so that these can't be used as tools of hateful propaganda and misinformation--guilty both sides. Nakita natin where the heart is closest to, we tend to defend it. That's human nature and emotion. I guess we just need to remind ourselves to be more respectful.

On the policy front, we continue to rely on online discourse to help us gauge public sentiment. As Chairperson of the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, I give my assurance that freedom of expression and the press will never be restrained in my committee and I know that this body respects that as well. This is exactly why the issue on misinformation-disinformation is particularly crippling for us.

As you know the Majority Leader has mentioned that it is through his grandfather's law and which we amended to be suitable to the times, that's why journalist and bloggers are now protected under the SHIELD law.

Even if we hold different views, we should have a common standard here of decency, kindness, fairness, justice that should withstand any administration. On this front, the government should take the lead.

We would like to extend our gratitude to everyone who attended today.

This hearing is hereby suspended.

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