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Opposition solons urge gov’t to act vs. spread of fake news

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 6/13/2018 Merueñas, Mark
Makabayan bloc members, L-R: Kabataan PL Rep. Sarah Elago, Bayan Muna PL Rep. Carlos Zarate, ACT Teachers PL Rep. Antonio Tinio, Gabriela PL Rep. Emmi De Jesus, ACT Teachers PL Rep. France Castro, Anakpawis PL Rep. Ariel Casilao © Erwin Colcol Makabayan bloc members, L-R: Kabataan PL Rep. Sarah Elago, Bayan Muna PL Rep. Carlos Zarate, ACT Teachers PL Rep. Antonio Tinio, Gabriela PL Rep. Emmi De Jesus, ACT Teachers PL Rep. France Castro, Anakpawis PL Rep. Ariel Casilao

Opposition lawmakers from the House of Representative on Wednesday urged the government to address the issue of fake news on the Internet straight up to prevent the further spread of false and wrong information to the public.

The lawmakers made the call in response to the results of the March 2018 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing that 67 percent of adult Filipinos believe that fake news problem on the Internet is serious.

"It’s a wake up call to all our institutions involved in forming and disseminating information. Something must be done by way of policy and discourse for the truth," Akbayan party-list Representative Tom Villarin told reporters in a text message.

"The Goebbels mantra of repeating lies often enough can be passed on as truths is still highly relevant and used extensively by government or people with ulterior motives other than the truth. Our people must fight back and reclaim public space for truth nothing less," he added.

According to the results of the March 2018 SWS survey, only 13 percent of the respondents believe that the fake news problem in the Internet is not serious.

Moreover, the results of another SWS survey conducted in December 2017 shows that 60 percent of adult Filipinos said the fake news problem in the media was serious.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said the results of the survey only shows that more Filipinos are seeing the dangers of fake news.

"This is a good development and we hope that this would also encourage more people to be more critical and analytic of what's happening around them, especially now that so-called fake news being churned out by dubious, even fake websites and sources, are clearly being weaponized to deliberately mislead our people," he said.

"We also trust that this survey result can also push the House leadership to finally approve the Freedom of Information Bill, which is still languishing in Congress," he added.

Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Emmi De Jesus, meanwhile, expressed concern that the distortion of facts through fake news may contribute to a culture of impunity.

"It is alarming as this targets the social media generation," she said.

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., on the other hand, is hoping that Filipinos will also realize that the proliferation of fake news is a result of a "propaganda machine" that aims to destroy the reputation of those who oppose the government.

"With more than a third of Filipinos having access to the Internet, fake news indeed is a big problem and poses a threat to our democracy. Ngayong panahon lang naman talagang lumaganap ang fake news at lumala ang disinformation in social media," he said.

"It’s symptomatic of an increasingly fractured society where expressions of opinion are branded as either 'DDS' or 'Dilawan,'" he added.

The surveys were respectively conducted from December 8 to 16, 2017 and March 23 to 27, 2018, and were participated in by 1,200 adults nationwide --- 300 each in Metro Manila, Balance of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Sampling error margins for national percentages is ±3 percent, and ±6 percent each for Metro Manila, Balance of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. — MDM, GMA News

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