Silence on Duterte's foul words allows disinformation: ex-DepEd chief

Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 13 2018 11:33 AM

Former Department of Education secretary Armin Luistro, FSC and President Rodrigo Duterte. File/Composite

MANILA - Staying silent about President Rodrigo Duterte's foul language has also allowed disinformation to proliferate, a former Department of Education secretary said Tuesday.

Speaking at a forum on disinformation Tuesday, La Salle President Armin Luistro, FSC, took a swipe at Duterte's latest controversial pronouncement, ordering soldiers to shoot female communist rebels in their private parts.

"When you have a president who tells his troops to shoot female combatants in the vagina, followed by the logic that you shoot the vagina and they become useless, and you have an audience that applauds or, at the very least, keeps quiet, that is the basic architecture that allows fake news to become true, applauded, and valued," said Luistro, adding that he wouldn't accept the statement even if it was a joke.

Luistro said the current administration was able to project an image that they are in touch with humanity by using foul words, noting that "the essence of humanity is its sinfulness."

He said people forget the other part of humanity -- nobility.

The educator said the people, while part of the architecture of disinformation, can also take the first step to stop it. "The first step is actually deep respect," he said.

"I am not anti-Duterte but over the past 1 and a half year, I have seen how power has consolidated and allowed dissenters to be silenced. Once we have that basic architecture, we don't only lose a political party or a government program, it erodes the soul of the Filipino," said Luistro.

Luistro is a panelist for the "Democracy and Disinformation" forum at the Ateneo de Manila University in Rockwell, Makati.

Ateneo President and co-panelist Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ, said the internet has allowed the dissemination and amplification of lies at a time when "truth is unadorned."

The priest said public squares for meaningful face-to-face conversation should be created. He cited the need to "strengthen the middle voice amid the loudness of the outliers."

The academe, added Villarin, should also remove its "insulation" and the academics should step down from its "ivory tower" in order to fight the spread of disinformation in the digital age.