THE best way to counter massive disinformation and fake news online is with truth in polite face-to-face conversations, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan tells campaigners for Team Robredo Pangilinan (TROPA).
“Unfortunately because of five years of relentless lying and demonization, people actually believe that VP Leni is a weak leader and has not done anything. The same with me that I have not done anything, which is not true (Nakakalungkot dahil sa limang taon na tuloy-tuloy na pagsisinungaling at paninira, may naniniwala na mahina si VP Leni at walang nagawa. Ganoon din sa akin, na wala akong nagawa, na hindi naman totoo),” Pangilinan said in a virtual gathering with the Frontliners for Leni.
“People fall victim to the lies that are spread on social media. So our duty is to counter this. The truth will resonate and in the face of the truth, the lies will fall flat. That’s the challenge for us (Naniniwala ang tao sa kasinungalingang pinapakalat sa social media. Tungkulin natin na labanan ito. Mananaig ang katotohanan at matatalo ang kasinungalingan. Yan ang hamon sa atin),” he added.
During the virtual gathering, the Frontliners for Leni assured Pangilinan of their support come election day, noting that its members have already put in place strategies that will further spread TROPA’s campaign message.
“We’re just waiting for the surge to go down. We are ready for battle again. You, Senator Kiko and Vice President Leni are giving us inspiration… You are really our hope. You make us feel stronger, act nicer, and want to help everybody (Hinihintay lang naming humupa ang Covid. Lalaban na ulit kami. Kayo ni Vice President Leni, Senator Kiko, ang aming inspirasyon…Kayo ang aming pag-asa. Pinapalakas at pinapabuti niyo kami. Gusto naming tulungan lahat),” said Maria Jesusa Banal-Silao, the group’s founder.
The Frontliners for Leni, which was initially formed as a Viber support group for TROPA’s campaign, is composed of doctors, business executives, pharmacy owners, bankers, and patients.
Pangilinan said producing materials such as memes and videos debunking baseless accusations and allegations against candidates should be explored.
But aside from using social media, Pangilinan said nothing beats face-to-face conversations as this method will particularly reach audiences who are not yet fully decided which candidates to support in the upcoming national elections.
Although the proliferation of fake news and disinformation online remain strong, Pangilinan reminded the supporters to stay calm and respectful when speaking with the adversary’s “soft supporters”.
“These soft supporters are not the enemy and they can still be considered as undecided, so let’s treat them with respect despite opposing views. Attacking, insulting, cursing, talking down in a condescending way will not help. Therefore, be level-headed (Hindi kalaban ang mga soft supporters o undecided. Galangin sila kahit na iba ang kanilang pananaw. Hindi nakakatulong ang pag-away, pag-insulto o pagmamaliit sa kanila. Laging maging mahinahon),” Pangilinan said.
“Many of the voters who are now giving their support to our adversary, I believe a lot of them is soft because of fake news and disinformation. How do we combat that? We combat that through truth (Marami sa mga supporters ng ating katunggali, naniniwala sa kanila dahil sa kasinungalingan. Paano natin ito lalabanan? Labanan natin ng katotohanan),” he added.
Pangilinan also addressed the long-time allegations that the Liberal Party lost support because it is elitist, saying this narrative is a result of disinformation.
“That elitist tag draws its roots from, unfortunately, fake news. When Mar [Roxas] lost in 2016, people were saying that we were elitist, detached, out of touch, and all that… But you know, I won in 2016. Seven of the 12 candidates of PNoy won in 2016. Our vice president won. We were not detached (Fake news yang bansag na elitista. Noong natalo si Mar noong 2016, sinasabi ng mga tao na elitista, detached, lutang, at kung ano-ano pa…Pero alam natin: Nanalo ako. Pito sa 12 kandidato ni PNoy nanalo noong 2016. Nanalo ang ating vice president. Hindi tayo talo),” he said.
Amid the whirlwind of disinformation online, Pangilinan still trusts the capability of Filipinos to decide based on reason and truth.
“I believe the Filipinos are capable of making an informed decision. That’s why the truth is so important and we need to push for that (Naniniwala akong kaya ng Pilipino ang gumawa ng desisyong nakabase sa katotohanan. Kaya mahalaga ito at kailangang itulak),” he said.
“But I also believe that voters will not want to make decisions based on lies and therefore the lies have to be exposed and the truth has to be disseminated far and wide (Naniniwala rin ako na ayaw ng botante na magpasya base sa kasinungalingan. Kaya kailangang isiwalat ang kasinungalingan at ipakalat ang totoo sa pinakamarami),” Pangilinan added.