Declaring fake news 'illegal' may be 'unconstitutional': Roque

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 01 2018 09:06 PM

Declaring "fake news" as illegal may be unconstitutional, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Thursday.

"Declaring illegal fake news will have a heavy presumption of unconstitutionality," Roque said in a press conference in Baguio City.

"Any content-based restriction is heavily presumed to be unconstitutional," he said.

Roque's comment came days after the Senate held its second hearing on fake news where lawmakers and journalists discussed the possible regulation of disinformation, especially if posted by government officials.

Among the blogs that were called out in the hearing was Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson's Facebook page that had been flagged for posting a number of baseless accusations and misleading information.

Roque said people should not be hindered from making posts online as it is "important for us to have a free market place of ideas."

"Even false information may have an impact on public debate. After all, we have the capability to discern truth from falsity," Roque said.

Senators and media experts agreed that new laws against fake news were unnecessary as existing laws are enough to hold bloggers and netizens accountable should they spread disinformation.

"Some bloggers claimed that their posts were personal expressions or mere opinions and are therefore not subject to a journalist’s code of ethics. In my view, bloggers are not above libel laws," Poe said.

"You cannot just attack a person without basis, and then hide behind the skirt of free expression. I think one must have the courage to stand by what he has written and posted publicly," she said.