MANILA — Senator Grace Poe on Thursday allayed the concern of President Rodrigo Duterte that a proposed law against fake news would be like censorship saying that she is not in favor of anything that suppresses freedom of speech.
“While I am concerned about the pernicious effects of the proliferation of fake news that can destroy not just a person’s reputation but institutions as well, I am in no way in favor of any measure that aims to suppress our freedom of speech or expression,” Poe said in a statement.
Poe explained that the kind of law she plans to craft will instead increase the penalties for cyber libel which will also make public official liable for spreading fake news.
“What I intend is to come up with a law that will increase the penalties for cyber libel caused by fake news and make public officials and employees, whether elected or appointed, hired as a consultant or adviser, paid or not, criminally liable for posting fake news online where malice is presumed,” she added.
Poe added that it would be wise to make it a public policy to deem fake news a malum prohibitum (wrong due to being prohibited) offense by way of special law.
Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, earlier led a public hearing on fake news that was attended by Communications officials, journalists, bloggers, and other social media experts.
It may be recalled that President Duterte earlier said that a proposed law against fake news would not get passed by him because it would be a form of censorship.
“Freedom of expression would be constitutional. I am sure they cannot pass a law against fake news,” Duterte said.
The President, meanwhile, suggested that a law increasing penalties for libel and slander can be passed instead.
— Azer Parrocha/PNA