MANILA — The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) is convinced that the existing laws in the country are enough to serve and protect the public from fake news and its harmful effects.
PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar, in his opening statement during the second Senate hearing on fake news Tuesday, noted that there are already existing laws which may be tapped by anyone seeking redress against fake news or false information.
He specifically cited Articles 154 and 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act 10951, which penalizes unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterances; and libel by means of writings or similar means.
He added that Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 also has a section on cyber-libel.
Should the legislature, however, decide to formulate new laws or amend existing ones, Andanar cautioned that fake news has to be very clearly defined with the assurance that the basic constitutional right to free speech and expression will not be curtailed.
Andanar also emphasized that fake news is not limited to political bickering, but is also perpetrated by those who promote violent extremism, and share false announcements that create confusion and panic among the public.
PCOO believes that through a concerted effort of all the stakeholders — the government, academic institutions, media practitioners, and social media community — to make the public aware both of their rights and responsibilities in sharing truthful information, the citizenry can rise above fake news.
Andanar recommended that the legislative branch should support and strengthen the National Bureau of Investigation’s Cybercrime Division for safe internet access and prosecution of cases against sources of fake news and malicious misinformation.
PCOO, he said, supports the move of the Department of Information and Communications Technology to provide social media guidelines for civil servants. (PCOO)