• Senators seek penalties vs ‘fake news’ purveyors

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    In a bid to protect the public from disinformation that is currently rampant in the country, senators are planning to file a bill that will stop individuals and groups responsible for creating and spreading false information or “fake news.”

    Senators Grace Poe and Joel Villanueva over the weekend said they are convinced that the widespread proliferation of fake news should be addressed by penalizing those wittingly or unwittingly disseminating it just to malign other people and institutions.

    The two cited the latest blunder of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre wherein he accused Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, Antonio Trillanes 4th and other individuals identified with the opposition of meeting with local leaders in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, weeks before the Maute terror group attacked the city.

    The Justice secretary even showed a photo to make it appear that Trillanes, Rep. Gary Alejano of party-list group Magdalo and Aquino administration political adviser Ronald Llamas had met in Marawi City.

    It was later learned, however, that the photo was taken in Iloilo Airport in 2015.

    Poe, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, said the proliferation of fake news on the Internet is very alarming and adversely affecting public and private interests.

    What is very concerning, she added, is knowing that the Justice secretary is willing to exploit such fake news like a troll without even exerting effort to at least verify the information just to malign political opponents.

    It was not the first time that Aguirre made such false claim.

    In January, he apologized to Sen. Francis Pangilinan, whom he accused of being behind a plot to pin him down in the P50-million extortion controversy at the Bureau of Immigration.

    Poe said authors of fake news as well as sites wittingly hosting the same should be made liable for their actions because they have been causing a lot of damage.

    Villanueva said he would file a bill penalizing those who “maliciously” create and intentionally spread fake news in print, broadcast or online media.

    Those who author lies and fake news, according to him, should not be tolerated, most especially when the public interest is at stake.

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