Veteran journalist says Duterte is top purveyor of 'fake news'; Andanar reacts

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 31 2018 12:01 AM

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar makes a point during the second Senate hearing on 'fake news' in Pasay City on Tuesday. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Veteran journalist Ellen Tordesillas said "fake news" in the country is primarily spread by no less that President Rodrigo Duterte.

Speaking during Tuesday's Senate hearing on fake news, Tordesillas lamented how misinformation is spread using taxpayers' money.

"Fake lies are concocted to deceive the public. They confuse the public, disempower them from making informed decisions," she said.

"And the worrisome part of this is that most of the sources of disinformation is being perpetuated by government officials on taxpayers' money. And the number 1 source of fake news is President Duterte himself," Tordesillas added.

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According to Tordesillas, news organization Vera Files has a fact-check project, and Duterte "keeps them busy."

"Vera Files has a fact-check project. We track falsehood being spewed out by public personalities, and I tell you, President Duterte keeps us busy. In just one speech, sometimes, he would say more than one falsehood," she said, citing the conflicting data on the government's war on drugs as an example. 

"Social media is a vehicle, and the problem about that is that most of the inaccurate data that he has are bases of [executive] policies," Tordesillas added.

For Tordesillas, misinformation can only be prevented with truth.

"The best antidote to fake news is truth. Ang kalaban ng kasinungalingan ay katotohanan," she said.

Reacting to Tordesillas' statements, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar defended President Duterte by pointing to the latter's support for freedom of information. 

"I respect Ma'am Ellen as a journalist pero pag sinabi niya po na si Presidente 'yung source ng falsehood, na-generalize masyado 'yung inyong sinasabi. Hindi rin naman din ako papayag na ganun ganun lang," he said.

Andanar then invited Tordesillas to join the government's communications initiative and express her opinions.

"Meron po kaming programa, 'yung PCONET, ito po yung Provincial Communications Officers Network, and they've been going around the country, and if you're free to join us, there's only one way to find out. Join us, and not necessarily believe in what we do, but join the caravan and we can have opposing opinions, that's our job," he added.

Andanar noted that only President Duterte managed to sign an executive order on Freedom of Information covering the executive branch.

"Number 3, siguro naman ito'y malinaw sa mga kababayan natin na itong administrasyon lamang na ito ang nakapag-pirma, nakapagpasa ng Freedom of Information under an executive order," he explained.

Senator Grace Poe, in response, said Duterte's FOI order has not been effective in making governance more transparent.