Singapore passed early last May an anti-“fake news” law that will be implemented this month. The “Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation” Act gives government the power to compel online news sites and even chat groups to remove statements “against the public interest” and to correct them. Not only individuals will be affected but also social media and news organizations like BBC and Reuters.
The way the Philippine Party List System has worked since it was created by the 1987 Constitution to assure “proportional representation” in the House of Representatives, and the Party List Act (Republic Act 7941) passed in 1994, has provoked even the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to consider asking Congress to amend the law. But it is unlikely that that body will do so — at least not towards making it truly serve the voiceless and marginalized sectors of Philippine society.
Unless there was widespread cheating and fraud last May 13, the Philippine electorate has apparently elected to the Senate enough Duterte candidates for that body to be fully under administration control.
The Philippines is one of the world’s most lawless countries. But it’s not because it has too few laws or none at all, but because it has too many that are often interpreted in favor of the powerful so as to bring about the exact opposite of their intention, are selectively implemented, or hardly enforced at all.
World Press Freedom Day has always been the occasion for responsible journalists to re-examine the state of one of the fundamental needs of ethical practice. This year as in 2018, May 3rd was not so much an occasion for celebration as for alarm. As in many other parts of the world, the independent press is under siege from a government that has made it its life work to harass, restrict, threaten and silence it, and to even arrest practitioners for daring to report the truth.