It’s not clear what Senator Grace Poe as the chairman for the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media wanted to achieve in conducting a hearing on fake news. The hearing did not have any clear objective. Poe just allowed the resource speakers to state their claim and then… nothing. She doesn’t even ask for proof to support the mainly Yellow resource persons’ accusations.
Well, the hearing did have a tendency to paint President Rodrigo Duterte’s supporters as the only source of fake news, which is wrong. We all know the Opposition has their own army of trolls and allies in mainstream media who spread negative propaganda against their enemies. Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Marie T. Badoy was correct in saying that current Vice President Leni Robredo has a habit of spreading false information and giving the wrong perception of the state of the nation not just to Filipinos, but to the members of the international community as well.
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Badoy cited the time Robredo made a video specifically addressed to the United Nations expressing her concerns about the government’s war on drugs. Without checking the facts and getting the correct data from the Philippine National Police, Robredo appealed to the UN for help and claimed that “the body count due to drug-related killings keeps growing.” She added:
We are now looking at some very grim statistics: since July last year, more than 7,000 people have been killed in summary executions.
That was very slack and irresponsible of Robredo. As I said before, Robredo made serious allegations based on hearsay. She has pissed off the Philippine National Police by painting them under a bad light. She didn’t even ask them for clarification about their scheme “palit-ulo”, which is “a commitment of a drug suspect to provide assistance in the arrest of a ‘bigger fish’ in the illegal drug syndicate.”
In a recent speech during the 72nd anniversary of the Liberal Party, Robredo also claimed that “darkness” is shrouding the nation. Just because her party is not in control, doesn’t mean the nation is in darkness. The Philippines may have a long way to go to achieve real progress, but the Liberal Party held the country back even more with their incompetence and negligence. Robredo failed to mention that.
Retired political science professor at the University of the Philippines Clarita Carlos was compelled to rebut Robredo’s negative assessment:
Carlos acknowledged that not all of the reforms under the current administration have been successful but said that the chief executive has only been in office for only one and a half years.
“It will take some time, remember we are still one a half years’ time to this administration. There are many, many other things which we needed to change. Transport for one, there’s a lot to be done there. But let’s not be in a hurry because all these things which are ills of our society have been planted there for decades already”.
It’s high time Robredo is held accountable for the nonsense she keeps spewing. She also contributes to the dumbing down of Philippine society with her idiotic statements.
The second hearing actually turned into a Mocha Uson burning session. While the Assistant Secretary for Presidential Communications Operations Office was not available for the hearing, it did not stop her critics in the hearing to talk about her. That wasn’t right. Uson did not have a chance to defend herself. Her boss, Secretary of PCOO Martin Andanar, was around to answer questions about Uson’s activities, but Andanar was not in a good position to answer for her. The best he could do was to promise to speak to Uson.
There was nothing that the Yellow resource speakers said in the second hearing that they didn’t say during the first hearing, which made the second hearing pointless. It was obvious the Yellows, particularly Senator Bam Aquino, just wanted to emphasise once again that only Duterte supporters are purveyors of “fake news”. He even submitted a list of sites that he thinks is a source of fake news and wants the authorities to investigate who operates them. It seems Aquino is trying to stifle dissent by scaring independent bloggers who criticise him. Who is he to judge what fake news is anyway?
Embattled Rappler CEO Maria Ressa was also present in the Senate hearing as a resource person. Ressa is everywhere these days spewing the same narrative over and over painting Rappler as a victim of Duterte’s war against his critics from mainstream media. Never mind that she violated the Constitution and the Anti-Dummy Law. She needs all the exposure she can get to help her cause to “take back the Internet”. She lamented about the number hate speeches she has been receiving and claims they all come from Duterte’s supporters. She said that the end goal of hate speeches is to silence dissent. That’s odd. GRPost is older than Rappler. We’ve been receiving hate speech from the Yellows since Day One, but that didn’t stop us from expressing our dissent. Only crybabies get affected by trolls.
Not to be outdone, social commentator Tonyo Cruz too gave his two cents. He suggested that the government should have a “policy to ban hate speech, cyberbullying, name-calling, racism, and other discriminatory speech in official government platforms”. He would be the first to be banned because he is known for accusing other people he doesn’t agree with as paid hacks, mercenaries and frequent use of ad hominem arguments. His speech is full of hate against Duterte and his supporters. Even non-Duterte supporters who criticise the Liberal Party are not spared. He calls them Marcos supporters. He does not bother to back his accusations either. In other words, Tonyo is a hypocrite for advocating against hate speech and cyberbullying since he is guilty of doing the same things.
The once anonymous turned “darling of the media” blogger Jover Laurio of Pinoy Ako Blog was also present during the hearing. They were treating her like some kind of “expert” on fake news. Perhaps it’s because she is fond of spreading negative propaganda. She didn’t add anything significant to the hearing. Laurio simply accused Uson of creating divisiveness and hatred. I suppose she thinks she creates “unity” with her posts making fun of Duterte and wishing he and his family die in a plane crash. Just like her fellow yellows, Laurio thinks she has a monopoly on righteousness. Her blog site is biased against Duterte. She doesn’t write anything negative about the BS Aquino government. She even praises the Liberal Party even though a lot of the issues that haunt the Philippines today were due to the previous government’s neglect.
Laurio’s presence did not make any difference at all. Had she brought in Cocoy Dayao – the guy who setup her blog – that would have made a big difference. Dayao refuses to come out of hiding after he was outed as the person who allegedly registered Laurio’s blogsite. But I’m sure Laurio is still in contact with him. Poe could have asked Laurio about him.
Senator Manny Pacquiao promised to summon Dayao, Facebook and Google for the next hearing. It’s not clear if he was talking about Mark Zuckerberg and all the Google executives from Silicon Valley though. That would be interesting. But if they do attend, let’s hope Senator Poe will have a better agenda and a clearer objective. Otherwise, it will be a waste of everyone’s time.
In life, things are not always what they seem.