DUBAI – Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said the Philippine government has taken steps to implement media literacy in the country to combat the proliferation of fake news, which is becoming prevalent in the Philippines.
Andanar, while here in the country, answered questions from the Filipino community during the town hall meeting, held at the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Dubai and the Northern Emirates on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
When Kabayan Weekly asked what steps the Philippine government has done to fight fake news, Andanar said he and his team are pushing media literacy through the Department of Education (DepEd) and to have it as part of the school curriculum.
“Social media is an extension of our right to speak,” Andanar said, noting that as a democratic country, Filipinos do have freedom of expression, too.
However, he said, it was also important to post responsibly on social media or in any other medium for that matter.
Freedom of information
The PCOO official said that Executive Order No. 2 on the Freedom of Information (FOI) was a good example that the current administration is truly transparent.
Currently, there are 167 government agencies which have submitted their respective office data and information to conform with EO No. 2. The other agencies have yet to comply.
“You can go to the official website, www.foi.gov.ph, and have the right to request for information from the government, which was not there in the past administrations,” the PCOO Secretary added.
For his part, Assistant Secretary for Policy and Legislative Affairs Kristian R. Ablan, who is also the FOI program director, said that aside from DepEd, they have also agreed that every government official in the country also need media literacy to post responsibly and become good role models for the rest of the citizens to emulate.
“We do not encourage fake news or curb the freedom of speech,” Andanar said, even as he encourages responsible reporting from everyone.
As a seasoned journalist, with over two decades of experience in the media industry, Andanar fully understands journalistic ethics in reporting news.
Social media, which is one of the conduits in spreading fake news, is also a useful tool to spread balanced information, the Malacanang officials clarified.
According to Andanar and Ablan, Malacanang is open to social media practitioners. In fact, there now exist a social media accreditation process in covering Malacanang events. The government officials are also crafting a policy on the proper use of social media.
Credibility and reliability
Due to a couple of controversial posts by PCOO Assistant Secretary Esther Margaux “Mocha” Justiniano Uson that raised many questions from netizens on the department’s credibility and reliability, PCOO Andanar clarified that it was very important to also know the source where the information came from.
He pointed to key persons in the administration that the public should trust, particularly in terms of presidential and Malacanang information, as well as, statements from Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto “Ernie” Corpuz Abella and himself.
Meanwhile, Andanar shared that while on a stopover in Dubai, heading towards Europe, he utilized his time in the country to interview Filipinos to be part of a documentary he is working on.
He will also be doing the same when he reaches the United Kingdom and France. The PCOO official is scheduled to meet ‘Diehard Duterte Supporters’ (DDS) in Paris on Tuesday, October 24, 2017.