March 22, 2019
Worker senatoriable hits proposal to regulate social media, says poverty is breeding ground for fake news outlets
Worker senatorial candidate Leody de Guzman of the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) criticized Vice-President Leni Robredo’s proposal of having a law regulating the use of social media in light of the spread of fake news and troll accounts during election season.
According to de Guzman, a veteran labor leader and human rights advocate said, “It appears that the Vice President must be reminded that the Constitution says that no law should abridge the exercise of free speech”.
“Sa panahong nahahati na ang mamamayan sa pagitan ng mga nagsasamantala at pinagsasamantalahan, anumang pagtatangka na busalan ang publiko ay pagpabor sa interes ng iilang nang-aapi. More than ever, we should uphold and promote the right to freedom of expression,” he added.
“Unwittingly, her proposal is as draconian as the fascist regime that she has openly condemned and criticized. It is a suggestion that, if passed, will lead to censorship of criticism, exposes, and progressive ideas,” the PLM leader added.
De Guzman suggested, “Kaysa gumawa ng bagong batas, na naglalagay sa peligro sa karapatan sa malayang pamamahayaga, maari namang ipatupad Article 154 ng Revised Penal Code, na nagpapataw ng parusa laban sa pagkakalat ng ‘pekeng balita’. In the said law, a person maybe fined up to P200,000 for publishing fake news”.
But the PLM senatorial bet added that the law against ‘fake news’ is “rendered ineffective by the poverty and desperation of the masses”. He explained, “As long as the masses are hungry, they would easily be employed as trolls by opportunist politicians and political operators”.
“Social media has given power to the people to create online content for massive distribution. It has overtaken traditional media, where content is controlled and influenced - at times, absolutely - by media moguls and corporate sponsors. Yet, social media has not reached its full potential as an avenue for the free and democratic expression of the majority,” Benjo Basas, a public school teacher and first nominee of PLM explained.
“To counter fake news, which is usually for the benefit of the exploiting few, the masses should be given access and opportunity to have their voices heard,” Basas furthered.
The PLM is pushing for a legislative agenda that would give space to representatives of the people both in the state media and in social media, so that the populace could participate and influence the crafting of laws and policies even after elections. “Because above all else, democracy is nothing but majority rule”. ###