Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Wednesday, October 12 said he finds as “disturbing” Pulse Asia’s latest survey result showing that a high number of Filipinos is acknowledging the severity of the prevalence of fake news in the Philippines.
“Misinformation and disinformation should be taken seriously. Those behind it should be held accountable for their actions,” Estrada said in a statement.
“Hindi tama na hayaan nating lumaganap ang mga iresponsableng balita at impormasyon dahil ito ay magdudulot ng maling desisyon at opinion sa ating mga kababayan (We should not allow irresponsible news and information become prevalent and propel our citizens to make wrong decisions and opinions),” he said.
Estrada, earlier filed Senate Bill No. 1296 ,proposing the criminalization of fake news dissemination in the country.
“Bad decisions affect public interests, safety, order, and people’s lives. And bad choices stemming from false information cost money and unnecessary wastage of precious human, natural, financial, and time resources,” he said.
“Hindi natin dapat hayaan ito sa panahon na may kinakaharap na krisis ang ating bayan (We should not allow these things to happen especially now that our nation is facing a crisis),” Estrada stressed.
The recent survey showed that 9 out of 10 adult Filipinos see the proliferation of fake news as a problem in the country.
Most of the respondents said they have read, heard, and watched fake political news, listing mass media and national-level politicians as among the leading sources of fake news about government and politics.
While the Constitution guarantees free speech and press, Estrada said this should not be abused.
“It’s the duty of every Filipino to contribute to the development and welfare of the country, to uphold and obey the laws,” he said.
Estrada noted the platforms in which fake news is peddled to the public, as well as the role of social media influencers, bloggers and vloggers in the spread of disinformation in the country as shown in the survey.
“This is the reason why we intend to establish a policy to provide our citizens with a means for their protection from online falsehood and manipulation,” he said.
“We hope to stop the proliferation of disinformation and misinformation on the internet by criminalizing fake news as a cybercrime,” the lawmaker said in explaining the need to enact the bill into law.
The Senate should conduct immediate deliberations on his proposed measure to address the widespread proliferation of false information, Estrada said.
“Iba na ang panahon ngayon (The times have changed). With social media being the vehicle upon which fake news and false information are widely and exponentially disseminated, where people now rely on social media on a constant basis for information, news, entertainment, research, inspiration and guidance, and even for personal relationships, we cannot help but be overwhelmed by what we read and whether it’s true and credible,” he stressed.
“Hindi tama na panatilihin natin at palakihin natin ang kasalukuyang henerasyon ng mga Pilipino sa kultura ng fake news (It’s not right that we maintain and raise a new generation of Filipinos with the culture of fake news),” Estrada said.