The Office of the Press Secretary, the main communications arm of the President, will soon have a fact-checking team as part of its campaign against fake news or misinformation.
“We have a plan to create a fact-checking team and give additional information about raging issues. We are monitoring social media and we are being responsive,” Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said during a briefing of the House Appropriations Committee on Friday.
In another development, former National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) consultant Edgardo Cabarios on Friday said unscrupulous
parties are leaking mobile subscribers’ personal information amid the incidence of spam text messages containing the names of recipients.
“Someone should be punished for this because (personal) information was leaked. It can’t come from just anywhere, somebody must have leaked the info,” the former NTC deputy commissioner added during a public briefing.
A popular blogger before she was appointed Press Secretary, Cruz-Angeles described how the government would run its fact-checking operation.
“For example, recently, some so-called ‘raids’ were conducted by the BOC (Bureau of Customs), so we took the pains to explain what the exercise of visitorial powers is as compared to a raid. It’s probably not as widespread yet on the point that we can answer most instances of potentially fake news,” she said.
For now, Cruz-Angeles noted that her office is responding to issues on government functions but admitted funding “remains a challenge for this advocacy.”
Cabarios said that usually spam messages are random, but when it contains the names of recipients or subscribers it means personal information was leaked.
The National Privacy Commission (NPC) is already investigating the issue.
In a related development, the Press Secretary admitted to Congress that two government broadcast stations, IBC-13, and PTV-4, were deeply in the red and, in the case of the former, would be shut down by January next year unless it is funded.
According to Cruz-Angeles, not one centavo of the OPS’s 2023 budget worth P1.2 billion will go to IBC-13, and appealed to lawmakers to adjust the station’s budget during her pitch to the House Appropriations Committee on Friday.
As for PTV-4, the salaries of the employees of the state-run broadcasting network are not on par with industry standards, the Press Secretary said.
She also said there was no allocation for PTV 4’s personnel services, as the salaries of its employees are only funded by the network’s corporate fund, which is dependent on its advertising revenue.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has enjoined the country’s communication experts to join his administration in its fight against misinformation and fake news.
During the 2022 National Public Relations Congress held Thursday, Cruz-Angeles said Mr. Marcos is optimistic that communications professionals would use their voices to “leverage positive communication in stirring the nation towards full recovery and lasting unity.”
In a speech delivered for Mr. Marcos before public relations (PR) officers and communication experts at the Peninsula Manila in Makati City, Cruz-Angeles said: “The President likewise urges you to join the government in fighting against the proliferation of misinformation and disinformation through inclusive, compassionate, and responsible communication.”
She noted that the Marcos administration has launched a “One Messaging Policy” which aims to prevent disinformation, misinformation, and“mal-information” through close collaboration among government agencies under the executive branch.
The Press Secretary said the government wanted a single messaging standard because it is “serious” about fostering a “renewed sense of unity” in the country.
She said stepping up the campaign to stop the propagation of fake news would make the Philippines a “stronger” nation.
“By doing so, our country will emerge stronger as we pass this tipping point, a nation where our words may not only be expressed freely but may also be used as an instrument to shape our country’s future,” she said.
The National PR Congress is an annual event hosted by the non-profit organization Public Relations Society of the Philippines and attended by local and international delegates who are PR and communication professionals.
The first day of the 2022 National PR Congress focused on the role of positive communication in nation-building, training “tomorrow’s truth champions”, harnessing data innovation for truth and good, communicating wellness through the pandemic, and the five-year roadmap that re-envision the new normal.
In August, Cruz-Angeles said the OPS would be coming up with a “more comprehensive” feedback mechanism to enable the Marcos administration to be “more responsive” to the needs of Filipinos.
Cruz-Angeles also acknowledged the importance of public feedback on the performance of the government.