Palace: Declaring fake news 'illegal' is unconstitutional

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 2) — In the wake of the spread of misinformation online, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said declaring fake news as illegal is a threat to freedom of expression.

Roque on Thursday said any form of content-based restriction is unconstitutional and a form of restraint.

"It's very important to uphold freedom of expression by having the free marketplace of idea. Simply declaring illegal fake news, in my mind, will have a very heavy presumption of unconstitutionality," he said in a media briefing.

He added, "Any content-based restriction is heavily presumed to be unconstitutional."

President Duterte's spokesman said people should not be hindered from expressing themselves online.

He said the spead of misinformation online can help the public differentiate truth from false..

"Even false information may have an impact on this public debate. Because after all, we have the capability to discern truth from falsity and as the case said, sometimes you don't know what the truth is, unless you read something that is falsity," Roque said.

The Filipino online community bashed Roque for what he said on January 28: "Kung walang fake news, hindi natin malalaman kung ano iyong true news. Hindi natin malalaman kung anong kasinungalingan, hindi rin natin malalaman kung anong katotohanan."

Roque's statement comes days after a Senate panel held its second hearing on the spread of fake news.

In a hearing on January 30, senators slammed Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) officials, Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, for their personal posts that spread misinformation. Senator Manny Pacquiao also floated the idea of media regulation by requiring licenses for bloggers.

Related: Senators condemn PCOO officials for spread of misinformation

PCOO and investigative news group Vera Files both agreed there is no need to regulate social media, and also agreed on the need to advance media literacy.

Related: PCOO, Vera Files agree: No to social media regulation, yes to media literacy