Senator Leila M. de Lima has denounced the surge of fake news and hate speech directed against the opposition and other local officials who are actively working to help the public cope up with the impact of government-imposed enhanced community quarantine due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in the country.
De Lima made the statement after she learned that online trolls have intensified their efforts to spread fake news in order to discredit the efforts of opposition leaders, including Vice President Leni Robredo and members of the Senate minority bloc.
“Manufacturing fake news and trolling the ‘woke’ netizens are just as destructive during ordinary days. But to ramp up such despicable operations during national emergencies and public health crisis is beyond evil,” she said.
“Habang nagdurusa ang ating mga kababayan sa sakit, gutom at pangambang dala ng COVID-19 dahil sa kakulangan ng tulong mula sa gobyernong nacional, nasisikmura ba ninyo ang paggawa at pagpapakalat ng mga pekeng kuwento laban sa mga taong tumutulong at nagbibigay serbisyo?” she added.
As the entire country was placed under a state of national calamity due to the COVID-19 outbreak, reports have shown a surge of fake news and oft-repeated false narratives populating various social media platforms.
Rabid supporters of the Duterte administration, some of whom are holding high-ranking positions in government, have also ramped up their social media presence in attempting to discredit the good work of other leaders not allied to the administration.
News organizations, such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer, News 5 and Rappler have also reported that shady online personalities manipulated their published social media cards with fake quotes from opposition leaders and local executives.
“Because these leaders actually make sense and are doing remarkably well in their own capacities without government support, the growing approval of their constituents makes the traditional politicians feel threatened and insecure,” the lady Senator from Bicol said.
“The most glaring victims of these fake news and hate speech are VP Leni and Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto, to name a few, who are steps ahead of the rest of the government bureaucracy in implementing genuine public service measures against the spread of COVID-19,” she added.
In order to curtail the spread of fake news in times of a national crisis, De Lima urged ”woke” netizens to block fake news and their peddlers from their online feeds and report them to social media platforms under their respective community standards.
“Kilala naman ninyo kung sino talaga ang mga hari’t reyna ng fake news sa Pilipinas. I urge everyone to follow credible media outfits only and to block and report these fake news peddlers as soon as you see them creep up on your feed,” she said.
To date, local health authorities have reported a surge of COVID-19 infections across the country, with at least 17 people who have already died while 217 others are confirmed to have contracted infection.
Last March 16, the whole island of Luzon has been placed on strict “enhance community quarantine” where residents are urged to stay within the confines of their homes and practice “social distancing” measures to stem the spread of the deadly virus. (30)