Senate holds 2nd hearing on fake news

 

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 30) — The Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media conducted its second hearing on fake news on Tuesday.

Committee chair Grace Poe said one of the issues that will be tackled in the hearing are the community standards of social media sites.

"Recent reports have reached our office about certain Facebook posts of individuals on the supposed Marcos wealth agreement that have been taken down," Poe said in a Jan. 5 statement. "The posts were eventually restored, the same reports said. Prior to this, some posts of netizens dealing with controversial issues were also reportedly removed from the platform for allegedly not complying with Facebook's "community standards.""

The senator was pertaining to photos posted on social media of a supposed compromise agreement that would allow the government to get a cut of the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

On Jan. 1, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo confirmed to CNN Philippines that the agreement came from Oliver Lozano, former legal counsel of President Marcos, but that no action has been taken on these.

Read: Marcos loyalist proposes deal with gov't on Marcos wealth

"We need to know the clear guidelines of social media organizations in handling the activities of their users, and make sure that these neither infringe on the individual's right to freedom of speech and expression nor allow the abuse of such freedom," Poe said.

Andanar, Rappler CEO attending

Poe's office said in a Monday statement that among the confirmed guests are Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar and blogger Jover Laurio, the founder of "Pinoy Ako Blog."

Ressa and her company face a legal battle after the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked Rappler's business registration for alleged violation of constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership.

Read: Rappler takes case to CA, seeks to invalidate SEC decision

Ressa also faces an online libel suit filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng for a 2012 Rappler story on Keng lending his sports utility vehicle to impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Read: Rappler CEO Maria Ressa faces NBI over online libel complaint

Meanwhile, Andanar, a former TV5 news anchor, said on December 2017 that the Philippines will conduct its first information summit in the first quarter of 2018 to help combat fake news.

Read: PH to hold 'grand summit' to fight fake news

Laurio gained fame for her criticism of the Duterte administration in her blog.

Related: Filipino blogger confronts BBC reporter in ASEAN coverage

Other confirmed guests, according to Poe's office, include:

  • Communications Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag
  • GMA News Online Editor-in-Chief Jaemark Tordecilla
  • VERA Files President and columnist Ellen Tordesillas
  • TV5 anchor Ed Lingao
  • Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism Executive Director Malou Mangahas
  • Cybercrime law expert Atty. JJ Disini

Review free speech laws

In the first hearing on October 2017, Poe said there is a need to assess the laws in place that violate the right to free speech.

Read: Senate tackles spread of 'fake news'

This came after senators argued on September 2017 over a blog that called seven of them — Senators Koko Pimentel, Tito Sotto, Richard Gordon, Cynthia Villar, Miguel Zubiri, Gringo Honasan, and Manny Pacquiao — "Malacanang dogs" for failing to sign Senate Resolution 516, which urges the government to stop the spate of killings, especially of minors.

Read: Senators figure in heated exchange over blog post

The resolution was signed by the remaining 16 senators.

In the same hearing, pro-administration blogger RJ Nieto, founder of the "Thinking Pinoy" blog, named Cocoy Dayao as the so-called founder of numerous anti-administration blogs.

Read: Senate wants to subpoena founder of anti-government blogs

Poe said they may subpoena Dayao in the next hearing.

In addition, senators urged Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson — who has often been caught sharing fake news on her Facebook page that has over 5.5 million followers — to be more responsible in what she posts.

Read: Senators urge Mocha Uson: Use your power wisely