Digital experts bolster church group’s fight vs fake news in 2019 polls

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 16 2018 04:06 PM | Updated as of Nov 16 2018 05:50 PM

MANILA—A church-based election watchdog has beefed up its board with more information technology experts to help combat fake news spread online in next year’s midterm elections, its new chief said Friday.

Myla Villanueva said Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle had reminded her of this concern shortly before she took over as national chairwoman of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).

“For voters to discern what is true and what is not is a huge problem,” she told reporters, noting that fake news is a global problem.

“It is something that we are thinking through.”

Villanueva also cited challenges to data security but did not elaborate.

But it’s a concern, she said, that the PPCRV could help address by tapping more experts to join the group.

Villanueva herself is an expert in information and communications technology. She is joined by at least 3 other specialists in related fields in the new PPCRV board. 

Among them is Henry Aguda, who works as chief technology officer in a major bank. He also authored a book on data privacy and cybercrime prevention.

“We are looking at this closely and we hope that the Comelec will pay attention to the situation especially in light of what happened in 2016,” Villanueva said.

That year, hackers accessed the Commission on Elections’ website exposing massive private data, including millions in voters’ registration records.