President Duterte has said he would block a proposed law against fake news because it would a form of censorship and against freedom of expression.
Speaking today (Wednesday, October 4) he said: “I heard earlier that they would craft a law to set a standard. Ah patay. That’s censorship.” The president was speaking after a meeting with the parents of hazing victim Horacio Tomas Castillo III at the Malacañang.
He was referring to a Senate hearing on fake news conducted by the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, which was attended by government officials, bloggers, and journalists.
“That won’t pass,” the president said.
“Freedom of expression would be constitutional. I am sure they cannot pass a law against fake news.”
He explained that people tend to doubt anybody writing his opinion. People, he said, would ultimately come up with their own opinion.
Use libel laws, not fake news legislation
Instead of passing a law against fake news, the president suggested an increase in penalties for libel and slander.
“If you want, pass a law increasing penalty. After all, you have slander, you have libel – a civil case.
“But to prescribe a set of rules, what is proper or not, that won’t get through. That’s dead when it reaches me.”
During today’s hearing, Senator Grace Poe Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson to double-check sources of information she shares on her Facebook page, Mocha Uson Blog.
“I would like – from PCOO – especially you have a government post – to vet your sources. It doesn’t mean that if it’s published by a particular site that it would reliable,” she said. “We have to do double vetting for those things.”
Poe cited a post by Uson in which she falsely claimed that US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that President Duterte should be allowed “space to run his nation.”
Uson explained that she initially shared a report published by a daily newspaper but deleted the same post when she found out that the news item was inaccurate.
Poe also questioned Uson on a news article she shared, which claimed that 95 out of 105 nations at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) commended the Philippines for its human rights record.
The article was published by the state-run Philippine News Agency.