Press Release
January 31, 2020

To squelch fake news, disinformation
Nancy urges Palace to appoint Duque as 'only voice' to nCoV public emergency

Sen Nancy Binay today called on Malacanang to immediately appoint only one official spokesperson to speak in behalf of the government in matters relating to policies, advisories, guidelines and other information about the novel corona virus.

Binay urged Malacanang to appoint Department of Health Sec. Francisco Duque as the "official and only voice" of the government with regard matters surrounding nCoV threat.

According to the senator, designating Duque as the official spokesperson is necessary to ensure the public receives factual and reliable information from credible and reputable sources.

"We need to step up and elevate the ante in risk communication. I appeal to the President to appoint only one official spokesperson and only one voice who will regularly update the public of the latest developments on nCoV, and prevent anyone from government to issue statements, President's policy positions that are not official, verified, vetted nor cleared by agencies handling the nCoV situation," the senator said.

Binay added that it would be best if Malacanang sets up a high-level risk communication team composed of representatives from different agencies to ensure that information and data coming from government are vetted and verified.

"Ang nakalulungkot, we are also battling an epidemic of fake news and misinformation, tapos kung sinu-sino lamang na di naman bihasa sa public health o may sapat na kaalaman sa sitwasyon patungkol sa nCoV ang nagsasalita para sa DOH o sa presidente. Dapat may official statement galing sa Palasyo at di kung kani-kanino," she lamented.

Regular daily briefings, travel advisories, travel bans, updates, policy position, official directives and guidelines, and updates on conditions of those being monitored should only be dispensed by official orders.

"Politics collides with public health. Yung public confusion tungkol sa status ng NCoV sa Pilipinas at mga travel advisories ay nangyayari dahil na rin sa mga statement ng ilang personalidad na nagsasalita sa TV at media pero di naman officially appointed or designated ng Palasyo na magbigay ng pahayag," the senator pointed out.


Binay said that she supports the call for temporary travel ban to and from China and other destination affected by nCoV, noting that the diverse position and inconsistent statements from individuals and agencies other than the Department of Health (DOH) have sown public confusion and panic.

"Huwag na nating dagdagan pa ang kaguluhan sa Pilipinas. Public health ang nakasalalay dito. 'Wag muna paepal yung iba dyan because they do not represent the views of doctors or public health specialists. What some people in government are doing is spreading unofficial statements that are simply careless, irresponsible and prone to misinterpretations," she noted.

Binay added that the appointed spokesperson should be credible and equipped to answer questions from the public. The high-level risk communication team should have a unified and consistent message to the public.


"During times of crisis, yung mga fake news at tsismis can be like an uncontrolled virus kung walang magsasalita para iwasto ang mga maling impormasyong natatanggap ng publiko. We need someone who can refute fake news publicly. Sa ganitong paraan, we build trust and allay fears that the government is not in control of the situation," she said.

Binay said people want to know what is happening, adding that lack of information makes people prone to believing fake news and statements from unauthorized or unofficial sources.

"People wanted to be informed of the latest developments. They want transparency pero wag natin silang bigyan ng di-opisyal na pahayag kasi gusto lamang nila protektahan ang kanilang mga sarili at kanilang mga pamilya. Yung mga nagsasalita sa TV di naman yan accountable. At the end of the day, there's only one person in the country who is responsible for how nCov is being managed," Binay said.

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