“Election 2022 should be a people's issue.” - John Albert Pagunsan, Program Director, Fact Check Philippines
In its bid to educate the voting public in time for the 2022 National Election, Novice not only launched on October 23 its sixth digital issue HARAYA: Hilagpos sa Haba ng Tanikala but also held an online election literacy panel discussion.
The online discussion, in partnership with WeTheFuture PH, explored three hot-button electoral issues: the fight against misinformation, the dichotomy of free speech and libel, and the expectations from elected officials.
The panel included notable names in different disciplines: John Philip Bravo, chairperson for the Young Filipino Advocates for Critical Thinking; Prof. Danilo Araña Arao, professor of journalism at the University of the Philippines Diliman; Atty. Ernesto Neri, director at Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan; Ken Paolo Gilo, Negros coordinator for the First Time Voters Network; and Atty. Ernelson Trojillo, partner at TAM Law Offices
Combating Fake News
The discussion kick-started with a dialogue on the current state of misinformation and fake news in the Philippines, noting that the country ranks as one of the most social media active jurisdictions in the world. Professor Arao pointed out how fake news has become an immense industry that motivates political groups to sow disinformation.
Adding to the topic of sensationalizing fake news, Mr. Gilo reiterated that “one of the mistakes people make when they see fake news is that they provide [different] information that they want [to hear] rather than ‘attack’ the fake news [itself].”
But how harmful is misinformation and fake news?
In Atty. Trojillo’s words, “without facts, there is no truth, and without truth there can be no democracy.”
Furthermore, in confronting fake news and misinformation, Professor Arao reminded the public to base their opinions on evidence, adding that “truth-telling is composed of factual and textual accuracy.”
Mr. Gilo also advised to fact-check information when “something is worth sharing but it’s too good to be true” while Atty. Trojillo noted that libel, as an abridgment of one’s freedom of speech, limits and regulates such freedom.
‘Leader Qualifications and Expectations’
Aside from the discussion on fake news and misinformation, the panel also explored the topic of qualifications of politicians.
In response to the sentiment of “increasing” the minimum educational qualification of “can read and write” to “has bachelor’s degree” under the 1987 Constitution, the panelists agree that the same can be considered as “elitist” especially given how only a small percentage of the population finish their college or university degrees.
The panelists also advised the audience on what to look out for in this upcoming election’s batch of politicians as they also voiced out their expectations from them.
Mr. Bravo hopes that future government officials will “help rebuild our democratic system and address economic and social crises especially after the pandemic.” He says that “it all boils down to good governance, wise leadership, and patriotism.”
Professor Arao says that the Philippine government needs an overhaul, a complete opposite of the current political system. He adds that we “cannot afford to live in our privileged positions in society and ignore the wails of the marginalized. What we need is the rule of law, not the law of the ruler.”
Mr. Gilo expects someone “who can heal us from the anger and frustration we realized from the lack of governance.”
To listen more to what the panelists have to say, watch the full video below:
With reports from Joseph Mamuric Jr., John Rey Dave Aquino, and Hazel Buctayon.