12 senators seek probe on troll farms spreading fake news on social media

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 12, 2021   •   682

MANILA, Philippines — Twelve senators want to investigate reports that public funds are oiling the operation of troll farms that spread fake news and misinformation on social media.

The 12 senators signed the proposed Senate Resolution 768 asking the appropriate committee to conduct an inquiry on the alleged state-backed and state-funded spreaders of fake information.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Nancy Binay, Leila de Lima, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Panfilo Lacson, Emmanuel Pacquiao, Francis Pangilinan, Grace Poe, and Joel Villanueva, on signing the resolution, said the issue should not be dismissed especially when the spread of fake news would heavily affect Filipino citizens.

Senator Panfilo Lacson previously reported that “a government undersecretary has been organizing internet troll farms across the country to target political rivals or those not aligned with President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.”

Based on the resolution, a social media troll is someone who creates conflict on various social media sites by posting messages that are particularly controversial or inflammatory with the sole intent of provoking an emotional response from other users

“Filipinos should know why government spends public funds on troll farm operators disguised as ‘public relations practitioners’ and ‘social media consultants’ who sow fake news rather than on Covid-19 assistance, health care, food security, jobs protection, education, among others,” reads the resolution.

Senator Francis Pangilinan stressed that misinformation and fake news do harm to the country especially as it faces the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We must not let pass the use of taxpayers’ money to malign and harass people who are critical to the government. This is dangerous for democracy, especially that elections are upcoming next year,” he said.

Advertising firms We Are Social and Hootsuite, in their 2020 annual report, found that Filipinos spend an average of four hours and 15 minutes each day on social media – topping the world rankings for the sixth straight year. The Philippines is also the highest in the world in internet usage with an average of 10 hours and 56 minutes. -AAC

Senate on total closure from January 10 to 16 – Sotto

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines ­– The Senate will be closed for a week amid rising COVID-19 infections among its employees, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Friday.

Citing a report from the Senate Medical Team, Sotto said there are now 46 active COVID positive cases in the upper chamber while 175 employees are under quarantine due to exposure and manifestation of symptoms.

Sotto said these employees are awaiting the result of their COVID-19 swab test.

He also mentioned that five staff of the Medical Bureau are under quarantine, which depleted their workforce and find it hard to attend to the needs of the infected employees.

“Medical has sent a Memo recommending 7 days of total closure of the Senate from January 10 (Monday) to  January 16 (Sunday),” he told reporters.

“They will conduct thorough disinfection and this will lessen contact among employees to prevent or slow down virus transmission,” he added.

Sotto said total closure means no one will be allowed to enter the Senate premises except for those involved in the disinfection process to be conducted on January 8 and January 15.

The House of Representatives earlier announced it has extended the lockdown in its offices until January 16, also due to increasing COVID-19 cases.

 

Malakanyang, nanawagang tigilan ang pagpapakalat ng fake news ukol sa martial law

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Nanawagan ang Malakanyang na tigilan na ang pagpapakalat ng fake news sa gitna ng pandemya.

Kasunod ito ng pagkalat sa social media ng isang audio recording hinggil sa umano’y planong pagdedeklara ng martial law o kaya ay total lockdown ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte upang masugpo ang muli na namang pagtaas ng kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa.

Ayon kay acting Presidential Spokesperson at Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, nagdudulot lamang ito ng balisa at pangamba sa mga tao na hindi aniya nakakatulong sa gitna ng sitwasyon.

“Sa mga walang magawa na gumagawa at nagpapakalat nito, tigilan nyo na po ito please hindi ito biro, we are dealing with the real threat that understandably concerns our people,” ani Nograles.

Sa audio recording na unang kumalat sa social media noong Lunes, sinasabing wala na raw papayagang lumabas kapag nagdeklara ng total lockdown kaya dapat ay mag-stock ng pagkaing sasapat sa loob ng isang buwan.

Ayon sa Palasyo, fake news ito at pinayuhan ang publiko na kumuha ng tamang impormasyon mula sa mga mapagkakatiwalaang sources gaya ang opisyal na anunsyo mula sa pamahalaan.

“Fake news po ito. Huwag po tayong magpapaniwala sa ganitong uri ng balita, please get your news and information from credible sources only, kaya naman po binabalita agad natin ang mga bagong hakbang laban sa COVID para alam kaagad ito ng taumbayan,” ani Nograles.

Una nang itinanggi ni Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana ang kumalat na impormasyon hinggil sa martial law.

Giit ng opisyal, walang mabigat na dahilan para gawin ito sa ngayon ng pamahalaan sa kabila ng muling paglobo ng COVID-19 cases sa bansa.

Defense chief on martial law rumors amid rising COVID-19 cases: Fake news

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) chief Delfin Lorenzana has denied rumors circulating on social media that the government will declare martial law or a total lockdown to address the rapidly growing new COVID-19 cases.

In a statement, Lorenzana said there is no compelling reason for President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law.

“Not true. Fake news. Definitely out of the picture. There is no compelling reason to declare martial law,” he said.

Rumors that Duterte will impose a total lockdown, barring everyone from going out of their homes to address the coronavirus surge have circulated on social media at the start of the week.

This week, the Philippines saw a rapid increase in the number of new infections, with 17,220 additional cases recorded on Thursday.

The sharp increase in the country’s COVID cases is believed to be caused by the local transmission of Omicron and Delta variants.

But Lorenzana pointed out that the latest tally is lower than the over 26,000 recorded in 2021.

He added that while highly transmissible, the Omicron variant is seen to be less aggressive than the Delta variant.

“The highest we had was 26,000+ last year. Today we have 17,220. This variant while more transmissible is less virulent than delta. Less people get seriously sick,” he said.

Due to rising cases, Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, and 14 other areas in the country have been placed under COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

President Rodrigo Duterte have also directed local officials to restrict the movement of unvaccinated persons in a bid to protect them from contracting the virus.

Lorenzana, who also chairs the National Task Force against COVID-19, said the Inter-Agency Task Force is still evaluating on the possibility of implementing stricter measures to combat the COVID-19 surge. (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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