MANILA — Publishing false reports both by anonymous people and those in the journalism profession may become the norm if accountability is not exacted, Vice President Leni Robredo's spokesperson said Sunday.
Lawyer Barry Gutierrez said the vice president's camp is pursuing legal action against those who falsely reported that Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Joma Sison was a consultant of Robredo's presidential campaign, otherwise the illegal act may become normal if those responsible are not made accountable.
"Kasalukuyang pinag-aaralan ito ng aming legal team at talagang balak naming mag-pursue ng legal action dito dahil hindi na tama ito, 'yong ganitong fabrication, imbento talaga, pawang kasinungalingan," Gutierrez told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(Currently, our legal team is studying and we really do plan to pursue legal action over this because this isn't right. This kind of fabrication, they really made it up, an outright lie.)
"Hindi lang ito basta parang anonymous na parang kinalat na fake news sa Facebook o sa YouTube. Talagang my byline," he noted.
(This isn't just one of those anonymous fake news spread on Facebook or on YouTube. This one has a byline.)
Gutierrez was referring to a recent article by Journal News Online, which cited an alleged statement from Ang Bayan — the CPP's official news organ — that Sison admitted he was advising Robredo's campaign.
Both Robredo and Sison have debunked the article, which was published on a news outfit owned by the Romualdez family, cousins of presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
The CPP also said no such statement was published in Ang Bayan.
"Sa kasong ito, kung hindi natin sisikaping habulin yung accountability, lalo na sa hindi (lang) mga anonymous na tao, pero mga miyembro ng journalistic profession, eh baka mamaya maging 'yan na ang kalakaran sa mga darating na, hindi lang sa eleksyon pero sa anumang usaping pampulitika. Pupuwede kang mag-imbento, puwede kang gumawa ng kung ano-anong kasinungalingan," Gutierrez said.
(In this case, if we don't strive to exact accountability especially not only from anonymous people but from members of the journalistic profession, this may become the normal in the future, not only during elections, but also in any political matters. You can fabricate stories, you can concoct lies.)
"At kung papalagpasin lang ito, eh baka ulitin," he added.
(If we let this pass, they may do it again.)
Gutierrez said the negative campaigning against Robredo is proof that her campaign is gaining momentum two weeks before voting day.
He stressed that Robredo's camp will continue to address false information made against the vice president.
"Hindi puwedeng hayaan lang. Hindi puwedeng umasa na dahil sobrang absurdo ng ibang nilalaman ng fake news na ito ay hindi maniniwala ang mga tao. Dapat kaagad-agad ay ating i-call out," he said.
(We can't just let it pass. We can't just expect that people will not believe the fake news because of how absurd it is. We need it call it out immediately.)
Robredo's birthday rally on Saturday was attended by more than 400,000 people, according to organizers. Earlier in the day, she won the endorsement of the political party of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the United Bangsamoro Justice Party.
The latest Pulse Asia presidential preference survey conducted in March saw Robredo gaining 9 percentage points from her February rating, although she remains on second place after former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr.
Marcos' rating was four percentage points lower than in the February survey.