Stop using gov’t online accounts to spread falsehood – De Lima


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged her colleagues to investigate the reported use of government social media platforms to spread false and inaccurate information meant to mislead the public and undermine the free press.

In filing Senate Resolution (SR) No. 418, De Lima underscored the need to craft legislation that will hold the purveyors of false information accountable for their wrongdoings and ensure that freedom of speech and of the press remain robust amid a global health crisis.

“With Filipinos spending most of their time on social media, [i]t is undeniable that online platforms such as Facebook now plays an important role in dissemination of information and it is so powerful that it can actually trample on Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of the press in our country,” she said.

“As co-equal branch of government, Congress, through relevant and appropriate legislation, must end this unscrupulous practice of using government platforms to disseminate baseless, biased and misleading information online and to target members of the media which creates a strong culture of online impunity,” she added.

Recently, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) Facebook page posted a series of infographics baselessly accusing ABS-CBN of franchise violations.

The same page accused in a separate post that Rappler CEO Maria Ressa was spreading fake news in her interview with ABC News where she mistakenly said that ABS-CBN has 11 million workers instead of 11,000.

“This is not the first-time that government platforms were used to proliferate misinformation and were likewise used to target members of the media,” said the lady Senator from Bicol.

The NTF-ELCAC’s deleted posts were however notably shared by the official and verified Facebook accounts of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) which both enjoy wide followings.

Despite the patent negligence exhibited in the erroneous post of PCOO, De Lima wondered why the Office deemed it “unnecessary” to investigate the re-sharing of an “unvetted” social media post on the ABS-CBN closure after it has identified the person responsible for the online mishap.

“The erring agencies and government officials and employees must be held accountable for their acts. [T]hey must be reminded that their operations are fueled by taxpayer’s money and they must use it effectively and efficiently to avoid wastage of public funds,” she said.

“It is the interest of the State to protect its people from falsehood and defamation in our official social media accounts and in all government platforms, done under the color of authority by any government agency, official, or employee, who are tasked to enrich the quality of public disclosure on all matters of governance,” she added.

De Lima, who remains detained over trumped-up drug charges, has systematically been targeted by fake news peddlers aiming to silence her and stop her from her unflinching resolve in calling out the excesses of the administration and for its adoption of other anti-human rights policies of the Duterte administration. (30)

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