President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday called the creation of a law battling fake news ‘censorship.’
During the Senate hearing against fake news, the senators questioned Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary (ASec) Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson of ‘Mocha Uson Blog’ and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) consultant Rey Joseph Nieto of ‘Thinking Pinoy.’
The President commented, “Nakinig ako kanina (I heard) that they would craft a law to set a standard. Ah patay. That’s censorship. ‘Di lulusot ‘yan (That will not pass).”
Duterte said that he was sure that lawmakers would be unable to pass a law against fake news, as it would attack freedom of expression.
However, Duterte suggested the upgrade of existing laws. “Kung gusto mo (If you want), pass a law increasing penalty, tutal (after all) you have slander, you have libel, civil case. But to prescribe a set of rules, what is proper or not, hindi lulusot ‘yun, ‘patay ‘yan pagdating sa akin (that will not get through, that is dead when it reaches me),” he said.
The President made the statement on a press conference in the palace during his meeting with the parents of University of Santo Tomas (UST) hazing victim, Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.
PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar’s statement read by Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco during the hearing said that fake news websites tagging the administration and President Duterte is bad for the government as it may indicate official ties.
“We cannot stop people from sharing fake news even after they have been determined to be fake. Therefore, public education is a must,” he added.
Senators urged Uson and Nieto to be ‘accountable’ in their posts as apart from being bloggers, they are still part of the government and should be responsible in any information that they post on social media.
The said hearing by the Senate committee on public information and mass media ensued when SilentNoMorePH named seven senators who ‘refused’ to sign a resolution condemning the deaths of young people in the war on drugs – which the senators clarified that they did not refused but more of ‘they were not informed or asked to sign.’