OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR FRANCIS N. PANGILINAN
FOR THE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE PROLIFERATION OF FAKE
AND/OR MISLEADING NEWS AND FALSE INFORMATION
Magandang umaga po sa kanilang lahat.
Nabanggit na lang din po ‘yung Senate Resolution 516 at ‘yung pagruruta nito, nais po nating bigyang diin na base sa mga pangyayari — based on the facts, hindi ho sa fake news, ito ang naganap:
‘Yung resolution po was filed September 25, Monday.
Nung Miyerkules, September 20, five days before the filing, labing-anim na Senador na po ang pumirma sa resolusyon. Ang instruction ko sa aking chief-of-staff ay hanapan pa ng paraan para makakuha pa ng dagdag sa mga pirma at base sa instruction na ito, on 12:22 PM of Thursday, September 21, the following day, my office sent a copy of the resolution to the publicly available official emails of other senators: Senators Gordon, Honasan, Villar, Zubiri, and the Majority Leader.
The email on September 21, four days before the filing, we informed our colleagues that 16 Senators have already signed the resolution and we request if they would be sponsoring.
Senator Gordon’s office acknowledged receipt of the email on September 21, 4:41 PM.
On Monday at 5:30 PM, September 25, we filed the resolution.
So, on the following day, September 26, at 3:35 PM during the session, the Senate Resolution was read on the floor. Binasa ho ito stating the title and the names of the 16 co-authors at ni-refer po ng ating Senate President sa Committee nina Senators Lacson at Hontiveros.
Base po dito kung nais po nating ilihim sa mga kapwa nating Senador, ay dapat po sana hindi na po namin pinadala ng email at dapat po siguro ay basta na lang natin pinasa.
So sana po, base sa mga paliwanag na iyan ay maliwanagan ang ilang mga kasamahan at ang media na wala hong attempt na ito’y ilihim sa mga kapwa nating Senador. Kung meron mang hindi magandang naging reporting ay wala na po sa atin ‘yan at alam naman po natin ang matinding fake news at paninira, kaliwa’t kanan, sa social media. At dahil nga riyan, tayo po ang isang nagsponsor ng resolusyon para po imbestigahan ang fake news, matagal na po, three or four months ago, and we’re thankful that we allowed hearing this morning.
Pero nalilihis po tayo sa usapin ng fake news. Palitan na po natin very briefly, ang fake news pag-usapan natin.
Balikan po natin ‘yung kaso ni Kian. Last August, sabi po ni Senior Supt. Chito Bersaluna, under oath and he verified that Kian Delos Santos was a drug pusher, verified through social media. Sabi, nakita na daw sa balita sa social media na may kuneksyon daw si Kian sa drugs. And I quote:
“We based some information na lumalabas sa social media. ‘Yun lang po basis namin sir after na nung incident sir.”
The backlash after this statement was profound. Filipinos took to social media to express their outrage towards the use of online platforms to justify or be the basis for such operations. Netizens took to defending the memory of Kian against an onslaught of internet “trolls” bent on politicizing the tragedy. Cautionary art cards became viral, and events organized online translated into mass protests offline.
‘Yung ganitong pag-apaw ng sentimyento, pakikiramay ng mga tao mula sa malayo — this is what social media and the internet affords us.
There are many more instances in our recent history, ladies and gentlemen, that show the positive aspect as well as the flaws of social media. Positive because it allows easy access to information that was not readily available to all, positive because it allows a space for people to be able to express their thoughts on issues, positive because it bridges gaps to allow conversation between fellow men, between the politician and the people they are serving.
Such dialogue is important for a robust democracy. Democracy demands dissent. Equally as important, though: Democracy demands that we treat truth as an imperative.
And, when truth becomes subverted — whether through money, or coercion, or the desire for power, so too do the flaws in the design reveal themselves. Opinion mutates into propaganda; stories turn into lies. Today, as is evident not only here but around the globe, interest groups have found ways to exploit the system — ensuring that their narrative, their truth, is the one engages more people. Even some public officials have taken to social media to peddle falsehoods.
Who guards what comes out of the internet? Unlike the fourth estate, the traditional media, the internet does not provide for editorial checks and balances that can take those who spread misinformation into account.
Fake news is divisive. It feeds our prejudices, our pain, our anger, and fear and the feeling that we have somehow been wronged. It polarizes society. It divides democracy into camps, when it should unite us as one nation, conducting discourse with good will. Fake news is lying. And lying is wrong. If we are to survive as a nation, then we must remember such simple truths. Hindi tama ang magsinungaling. And the lying must stop.
This is the challenge to us. This is beyond what is viral, ladies and gentlemen. This is the bigger picture we need to look into. And we welcome this public hearing on the proliferation of fake and/or misleading news and false information.