By Chito Chavez
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan E. Malaya reiterated on Sunday his call for human rights group Karapatan to stop spreading fake news that puts the government unfairly in bad light.
Specifically, Malaya asked Karapatan to verify its facts after it claimed that the government was behind the forced apology of University of the East (UE) DAWN school paper editor-in-chief Joshua Molo for criticizing the administration’s response to the pandemic.
Expounding on his call, Malaya stressed that the government respects Molo’s right to freedom of expression as mandated in the Constitution and has no plans of violating it as claimed by “leftist organizations like Karapatan’’.
“The claim of Karapatan that it was the PNP that accommodated the allegations of Joshua’s former high school teachers is not only unfounded but totally baseless. Molo’s former high school teacher came to the Cabiao Police Station on April 5, 2020 complaining that Molo allegedly posted libelous remarks in his FB account but this was immediately dismissed by the Chief of Police himself,” Malaya said.
Since no charges were filed by the Cabiao Police, Malaya asked “so how can Karapatan say that they accommodated the complaint’’?
Malaya said in the case of the barangay officials, they were only doing their duties to undertake conciliation and community-based alternative dispute resolution between the parties as provided in the Local Government Code.
“During the conciliation proceedings, the records of the barangay showed that Molo agreed to do a public apology but it was an apology to his former high school teacher who complained against him and it was never an apology for his criticism against the government. That is clear in his video that has been circulating,” Malaya inisted.
On April 9, Karapatan accused that government authorities coerced Molo “into filming an apology video repudiating his criticism of the government.”
Malaya said that it was Molo who said in his Twitter account on April 5 that the barangay officials did not harass him nor force him to issue the public apology for his negative comments on the government’s Covid-19 response initiatives.
He added that based on Molo’s account, the barangay officials even welcomed them because his mother is a barangay tanod.
In his Twitter account, Molo said “On April 5, RedWire posted in their Facebook page that I was harassed by barangay officials to do the public apology. But I wasn’t. My mother is a barangay tanod and we are accommodated by the barangay officials. No coercion from them was done.”
Malaya also chided Karapatan for alleging that RA 11469 otherwise known as the “Bayanihan Act” arbitrarily defined and penalized “false information” which is now allegedly being used by the NBI to issue subpoenas against people expressing criticisms online.
“The provisions of the law are clear. It did not arbitrarily define what is “false information” but clearly defined the elements of the crime as follows: 1. no valid or beneficial effect on the population; 2. clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear or confusion; 3. take advantage of the current situation to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails, or other similar acts,” he added.
He also assailed the Karapatan for demanding an “adequate and just social amelioration” program when in fact the government is already implementing the largest financial assistance program in the country’s history which will benefit some 18 million poor families nationwide amounting to P200 billion.
“But I will not be surprised if they are blind to the truth because Karapatan together with their cohorts have become blind and deaf to what is truly happening in our society because of the rigidness of their obsolete ideology and their vicious hatred of the state,” Malaya stressed.
“They will make a mountain out of a molehill to sensationalize, create panic, and discredit the government because that is their sole purpose for being. Whatever happened to justice, objectivity and fairness?,” he asked