Now on its 26th year in the Philippines — March 29, 2019 marked the 25th year since the country was “wired” into it — the global communication network known as the Internet has been rightly hailed as another milestone in providing the perennial human need for information.
His attacks on the press are “repulsive,” and “he should be the figure of suspicion, not the press,” when it comes to “fake news.” A president who “constantly deflects and distorts and distracts — who must find someone else to blame — is charting a very dangerous path.”
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) have launched an online means of identifying and guarding against the spread of fake news. They’re using Fakeblok, the Google Chrome plug-in which flags fake news on Facebook. This enterprise is in addition to efforts by some media organizations to fact-check the statements of news sources and to closely monitor their own reports.
In 1987 Corazon Aquino filed a libel complaint against the late columnist Luis Beltran for saying that she hid under her bed during a coup attempt by military goons who thought her soft on communism. She went on to break precedent by testifying against him in court, before a judge who was her appointee.
Apparently unique in the Philippine press freedom regime, the practice of appointed and elected officials’ serving as newspaper columnists, or as television or radio commentators, blurs the necessary distinction between the government as object of public scrutiny, and the free press’ critical function of monitoring government. It creates a conflict of interest between the government’s and its officials’ interest in getting favorable publicity, and the citizenry’s need for impartial reports and evaluations of events and issues of concern including government doings and policies.