Sen. Go urges public to assert rights vs. fake news, disinformation

Published July 18, 2020, 10:40 AM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go today urged the public to abide by the law and exercise their rights to file complaints if they believe they are also victims of malicious and fake news amid the continuing spread of disinformation on social media.

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, said in a statement that the right to protect oneself from lies and fake news is part of our democracy.

‘’Tulad ninyo, may pamilya at anak rin akong nasasaktan sa mga paninira na hindi naman totoo. Tulad ninyo, lahat naman tayo ay may karapatan magreklamo gamit ang legal na proseso,’’ he stressed. (Like you, I have also a family and children that get hurt from lies and false accusations lodged against me. We have the right to complain using legal processes.) 

“Sumusunod rin lang ako sa kung ano ang naaayon sa batas upang maprotektahan ang karapatan ko bilang isang mamamayan, kasama na rin dito ang pag-enganyo sa iba pang naging biktima ng fake news na huwag matakot na magreklamo rin,’’ he added. (I am only following what is in the law in order to protect my rights as a citizen. I am also encouraging other victims of fake news not to be afraid in filing complaints.)

Go said that while he encourages critics to continue exercising their freedom of speech, malicious and fake news on social media should not be tolerated and justified as freedom of expression especially if it already causes harm to other people. 

He pointed out that he will continue to fight for the rights of the people to freely express their own opinion.  Criticism is a part of democracy (and) this will help in further improving our jobs and the services of the government, the senator said.

According to Go, abusive posts on social media prompted him to seek the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into certain accounts and posts that may have already violated the law. 

“Maraming inihain na reklamo ang mga abogado ko dahil sa mga social media posts na malisyoso at fake news. Hindi ako titigil at patuloy akong magrereklamo gamit ang legal na paraan habang patuloy pa rin ang pagkalat ng paninira at kasinungalingan,’’ he said. (My lawyers have filed several complaints against people who posted malicious and fake news on social media. I will not stop and will continue to complain using legal means against the spread of malicious lies and fake news.)

He added that he would continue to exhaust legal means to put an end to disinformation for as long as there are still individuals who abuse their freedom by spreading lies that inflict harm on others.

He emphasized that in the eyes of the law, every citizen has the right to pursue justice through legal means.

“Ginagawa ko ito upang turuan ng leksyon ang mga abusado na patas ang pagtingin ng batas sa ating lahat. Pareho po tayong may karapatan magreklamo at pareho tayong humihingi rin ng hustisya,’’ he said.  (I am doing this to teach lesson to the abusive individuals that the law is fair to everyone. We have the rights to complain and in seeking justice.)

“Pero dinadaan ko sa legal na proseso ang aking reklamo para mabigyan rin ang akusado ng pagkakataong sumagot sa patas na paraan,’’ he added.  (But I am using the legal process in filing my complaints in order to provide the accuse the opportunity to answer in a fair way.) 

Go explained that it is within the mandate of the NBI to verify, investigate, and issue subpoenas to authors of alleged malicious posts on social media to determine if there are acts committed that are against the law and to give the accused the opportunity to explain and defend their side.  

Go added that ‘’lahat ng nagkakalat ng kasinungalingan, iniimbestigahan dapat ng NBI dahil trabaho nila ‘yan (those who spread lies should be investigated by the NBI, that’s their duty).”

In a statement released by the NBI, the bureau announced that for the past several months, there has been a significant increase in the number of cyber libel complaints filed before NBI’s Office of the Cyber Crime Division.

NBI Cyber Crime Division Chief Vic Lorenzo disclosed that they received complaints from the public, government officials including Vice President Leni Robredo, Senator Go, Cavite Representative Crispin Remulla, Kabataan Party-list Representative Sarah Elago and other national and local officials coming from places as far as Siquijor, Leyte and Cebu, among others.

Lorenzo stressed that the issuance of subpoena is a way to verify the veracity of the complaint and is part of due process to give opportunity to the subject of the complaint to be heard. This includes the validation of the subject post or whether an assumed post, as a result of identity theft.

The NBI is reminding the public that they are open to receive complaints relating to violations of R.A. 10175 or the Cyber Crime Prevention Act of 2012, regardless of their status in life, and political and organizational affiliation.

Go said that, “If you think you have done nothing illegal, your conscience is clear, and you’ve not maligned anybody, you have nothing to worry and fear. Just answer the accusations against you and there’s a process in the law that will protect your human rights.”

However, Go said, if it will be proven that you’ve done wrong, you have to answer for your sins. The court will decide whether or not your allegations against your fellowmen have violated the Cybercrime Law, laws on libel and other laws.) 

Expressing his frustration, Go lambasted individuals who would rather waste time spreading fake news instead of helping the country in this time of crisis.

“Sa panahon ngayon ng krisis, busy kami na nagtatrabaho upang maprotektahan ang kapakanan, interes at buhay ng mga Pilipino. Nagseserbisyo lang po kami sa kapwa Pilipino. Pero ang iba ay sinasayang ang kanilang oras para magkalat ng kasinungalingan, busy manira, at dumadagdag lang sa problema ng bayan,’’ he said. (In this time of crisis, we are busy working to protect the welfare, interest and lives of the Filipinos. We’re just serving our fellow Filipinos. But others are also busy to malign [others], wasting their time spreading fake news, lies and add problems to the nation.)