The country’s highest officials, President Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo, are the allegedly the primary purveyors of fake news, according to resource persons invited to a Senate hearing.
Representing Duterte’s camp, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Usec. Lorraine Badoy, told the Senate committee on public information and mass media that “the Vice President is the one of the primary purveyors of fake news and that the President is maybe an even bigger victim than she is.”
“Just to put this on record, I’m bothered by the tone and the direction of this talk right now, just to make it very clear that misinformation lies and all these misleading do not come exclusive from the Duterte camp. Neither do they come from just officials that are identified with the government,” she said.
Asked by Poe to qualify her claims, Badoy referred to an apparent recent interview give by Robredo to an international audience where she alleged to have peddled and spread lies, painting a gloomy picture
of the country “at a time in our history when all the important numbers are looking up.”
“Fantastic numbers in fact and she says, it’s gloom and gloom, nababalutan sa dilim. (Yet) an unprecedented number of Filipinos, 98% are very hopeful for the first time. It’s unprecedented,” she said.
Blogger Tonyo Cruz then interjected to inquire whether her statement can be translated as the official position of the PCOO, accusing the Office of the Vice President of spreading fake news or peddling misinformation.
“Is that the official stand of the PCOO or is that just a personal stand of Ms. Badoy?” Cruz asked.
Poe replied saying that it’s obviously just Badoy’s opinion as the numbers will speak for itself.
Veteran Columnist Ellen Tordesillas, on the other hand, claimed otherwise saying that their Vera Files news organization, has actually documented all the alleged falsehoods made by Duterte since day one of his presidency.
Furthermore, Tordesillas relayed an incident where the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) asked them to tone down some of their “fact checks” being presented to some students from Metro Manila in a forum they organized.
Tordesillas dismissed the possibility of mainstream media working side by side with concerned government agencies to try and educate the public on what is real from fake news.
“Mahirap kasing makipag cooperate sa pamahalaan kasi hindi ko alam kung pareho kami ng definition of truth. Hindi ko alam kung yung katotohanan na sinasabi nila na gusto nilang ipaaalam sa lahat ay pareho kami ng definition. So yun ang medyo wary ako pag sinabi mong work with the government,” she said.
PCOO chief Martin Andanar protested Tordesillas’ claims saying that the latter generalized by saying that the President is the source of falsehood.
“Na generalized masyado yung inyong sinasabi, hindi naman din ako papayag na ganun ganun lang at ng ma broadcast sa lahat ng TV, social media so I wld like to invite Maam Ellen to visit my office, ilagay mga documents sa harapan ko and I will answer them one by one para mas malinaw po at hindi tayo nag ge-generalize, si Presidente,” he said.
Poe said Tordesillas would not would made such statements without any basis.
Nonetheless, she said it’s important that Andanar clarify such matters with Tordesillas.
“You were a former member also of the media so you know, I’m sure you have sympathy for them. I think it’s important to have accountability and you know that if you get a fellow media practitioner in the group then you will be more transparent, more accountable,” said Poe.