Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has warned against the surge of “fake news” against opposition figures, including senatorial candidates and their allies, as part of the orchestrated campaign to defame their image ahead of the elections in May 2019.
De Lima, who has thrown her support to the senatorial candidates of the united opposition “Otso Diretso,” has recently been targeted of fake news for being the leading opposition figure who draws international attention due to her arbitrary detention.
“As campaign season heats up, the purveyors of disinformation have become bolder. Their singular goal is to spread disinformation across social media platforms to discredit opposition figures like me and those running for the Senate,” she said.
“The dissemination of the ‘fake news’ has become a convenient tool for desperate personalities to confuse the public between truth and lies in an effort not only to defame the reputation of trustworthy individuals, but also to cover-up their mess,” she added.
An online post falsely claiming that Julieta de Lima, the wife of Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison, is the sister of the lady Senator has been making the rounds on social media anew, with netizens sharing and re-sharing the post.
“It’s an irrefutable fact that I only have one sister named Caroline and I have since maintained that Juliet (the correct name of Sison’s wife) de Lima is not closely related to me,” she said.
The circulation of disinformation against De Lima has intensified amid snowballing clamor from the local and international communities, the most recent of which came from the US House of Representatives, to free her from unjust detention.
Aside from De Lima, several members of Otso Diretso, including Mar Roxas, Bam Aquino, and Chel Diokno, among others, have been victimized by social media posts containing lies, which were largely shared by pro-administration pages.
A blog post published on pro-Duterte page claims that Roxas allegedly left Otso Diretso to ally with Mr. Duterte and another one showing a fake statement by Diokno’s daughter alluding that she is mad at her father for his anti-death penalty stance during a debate recently surfaced online. The two posts were fabricated.
“Namumuhunan ang administrasyong ito sa fake news para linlangin ang taumbayan na hindi katiwa-tiwala ang miyembro ng oposisyon samantalang ang mga kaalyado ni Duterte ay maka-tao, maka-bayan at walang bahid ng dungis. Kasinungalingan!,” she said.
De Lima, a former justice secretary, underscored the need for the Filipino public, especially voters, to be more discerning and probing in reading questionable news articles or blog posts across the Internet before believing them.
“Let us not allow Duterte’s paid troll army to distort the truth and allow lies after lies to dominate discourses. Let’s work together to ensure that truth and democracy prevail, especially this coming midterm elections,” she said. De Lima has always called out on Mr. Duterte and his allies for spreading outright lies, disinformation, and crude remarks, especially against women and religious leaders.