MANILA - Posts promoting hate could be considered "fake news," Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Tuesday as he admonished an anti-administration blogger.
At a Senate hearing on the proliferation of falsehoods online, Andanar, Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Banaag and Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy presented a slideshow of several posts by Jover Laurio, the woman behind the Pinoy Ako Blog, which they deemed inappropriate.
The blog is known for its criticism of the administration.
Among those they raised was a post entitled "Bong Go, hindi lang selfie king," which Andanar said was "malicious" towards President Rodrigo Duterte's top aide as it reported on Go's supposed intervention in a frigate deal of the Philippine Navy.
Laurio later admitted that she did not seek verification from Go or Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana about her post.
Go had been implicated in intervening in the selection of a firm to be contracted for the combat management system of new Navy frigates, an allegation which he denied.
"These types of post, ito 'yung mga nag-eengganyo ng hate messages," Andanar told senators.
Laurio replied that her post was not "fake news" but a "hate post."
"Hate post? Then it could be fake news," said Andanar.
Gilbert Andres, chairman of the Advocates for Freedom of Expression Coalition-Southeast Asia, said Laurio's blog post is not necessarily hate speech.
"This is precisely legal opinion, this is political opinion. It’s within the protection of the right to freedom of expression," he said.
"The antidote to speech that we hate is not less speech, but more speech. If some quarters of our political society are against this post, against this opinion, the antidote is to post another opinion on that, not self-censorship," he said.
The Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media initiated an inquiry on the spread of fake news last year after blogger Cocoy Dayao claimed in a blog post that some pro-administration senators refused to sign a resolution against the killing of minors.
This drew complaints from several senators named in the post, who the blogger tagged as "Malacañang lapdogs."
Lawmakers are hoping to craft a bill to curb the spread of disinformation, but media experts have told senators to focus on implementing existing laws to hold proponents of fake news accountable.