Andanar to Sen. Bam: Pro-Duterte websites and supporters should also stop hate speech

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar assured Sen. Bam Aquino that he will reach out to online groups supporting President Duterte and convince them to stop spreading misinformation and hate speech on social media.

“Would you be willing to talk to owners of these websites, a number of them carrying President Duterte’s name, and convince them to stop spreading misinformation, disinformation and hate speech against critics of the President,” Sen. Bam told Andanar during the Senate hearing on fake news.

While Andanar said that pro-Duterte websites and Facebook pages were established during the 2016 campaign when he was still a member of the mainstream media, the PCOO chief has committed that he will reach out to the members of the original core groups behind the websites and persuade them to stop spreading fake news and hate messages.

Sen. Bam also urged the PCOO chief to police his own ranks, saying blogs written by some of his employees in their private capacity hurt the image of the agency.

“Sana siguruhin niyo na ang miyembro ng inyong opisina, hindi gumagawa ng misinformation, disinformation and hate speech,” Sen. Bam told Andanar.

In addition, Sen. Bam called on both supporters and detractors of President Duterte to stop throwing hate speech at each on social media, saying the environment has become horrendous.

“Iyong batikos walang namang problema, iyong kritisismo wala ring problema, pero kapag humahantong na sa peke, sa panloloko o sa mararahas na pananalita, sana magkaisa tayo na itigil na ito,” Sen. Bam stressed.

During the first hearing on fake news on October 4, 2017, Sen. Bam shared a list of websites that produce fake and misleading news stories, a number of which used the name of the president.

Sen. Bam to netizens: Make a stand, be vocal

Stressing that the Philippines is a democracy, Sen. Bam Aquino encouraged netizens, whether pro- or anti-government, to speak up on crucial issues hounding the country, such as the extrajudicial killings (EJKs).

“It’s time to speak up, whether it’s for or against the administration, the opposition, the EJKs, etc. It goes for all sides,” said Sen. Bam during the Senate hearing on fake news on social media.

“Now, more than ever, kailangan tayong tumayo at manindigan. Laban kung laban. Tagisan ng talino, tagisan ng kuro-kuro but we have to do it through civilized means,” Sen. Bam asserted.

Sen. Bam called on pro- and anti-government bloggers and netizens to be more circumspect in expressing their views, to condemn hate speech, and to stop the spread of fake news.

Sen. Bam then submitted a list of fake news sites to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to unmask those behind the propagation of misinformation online. Many of the websites used the name of the president.

 “Hindi ba nakakasama sa administrasyon kapag ginagamit and pangalan ng pangulo para magkalat ng fake news?” Sen. Bam posited.

The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) conceded there are websites bearing the President’s name that do create fake news and that they should take actions against it.

Sen. Bam added that the Senate is ready to step in and legislate a measure to provide rules of engagement for social media to avoid the situation from getting worse. 

“It will intensify, from both sides. And if we need rules of engagement, then we will legislate,” said Sen. Bam.

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