Incoming PCOO chief blames 'lack of discourse' for spread of misinformation

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 31 2022 02:03 PM | Updated as of May 31 2022 02:11 PM

MANILA - Incoming Press Secretary Trixie Cruz Angeles on Tuesday said the "lack of discourse" on important issues and events has led to the spread of misinformation and disinformation, especially during the 2022 national elections.

"Mahalaga ang diskurso. Kaya lumalaganap yung ganung ideya dahil sa kakulangan ng diskurso," she told TeleRadyo's On The Spot.

"Free speech is the rule. Discourse determines what is disinformation, misinformation," she said.

Discussing and even questioning historical events should not be prohibited, she said, citing World War II, among other examples.

"Some ideas need discourse, some ideas are open to investigation, some ideas are supported, certain ideas can always be questioned but it doesn't mean that they will come up with a different conclusion," she said.

"It doesn't mean na invalid speech na ang pagtatanong," she said.

When asked about worries over possible attempts of the incoming Marcos administration to revise history, especially the martial law era of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Angeles said: "That's a minefield in itself."

"We're all part of that discourse, kasaysayan natin ang pinaguusapan. Why don't we allow a discourse," she said.

"We're talking about free speech. I think that everything should always be open to debate," she said,

"Even scientific theories are always open to question but I'm not saying that just because we open it to question, a different result will come out of it," she added.

'CONCLUSION NOT AS IMPORTANT AS NEED FOR DISCOURSE'

Angeles said the outcome of these discussions on historical events and other issues "is not as important as the need for discourse."

"Free speech doesn't imply that there is a need to come up with a resolution every time. Sometimes, free speech is just expression, and sometimes that expression involves a question," she said.

"Does it mean that we stop those people from asking questions if we think that the result is something we are not ready to accept or is in fact even wrong? Do we stop the discourse because people may come up with the wrong conclusion?"

"The point of the matter is to allow discourse and that is what free speech is about," she said. 

The incoming Press Secretary acknowledged that journalists have "to draw the line" on what transpired, but underscored that no one can tell other people "that you cannot question this" as that is a form of "limiting the discourse."

In the run-up to the 2022 elections, then-presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. refused to participate in debates sponsored by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and town hall interviews anchored by veteran journalists.

Marcos Jr. only attended a debate organized by a station owned by Apollo Quiboloy, a pastor included in the United States' most wanted list for his alleged involvement in fraud and sex trafficking abroad. Quiboloy endorsed Marcos' presidential candidacy even before the debate. 

Angeles said she plans to propose a formal discussion on "what constitutes misinformation and disinformation" as she prepares to take the helm of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

"Issue po talaga ang misinformation lalong lalo na nung huling Halalan," she said.

"Ang prinopropose namin... is to bring a discussion on what constitutes misinformation, disinformation. In fact, fact checking what constitutes fake news," she said.

An analysis of Agence France-Presse showed that "since the beginning of 2021, Marcos Jr. has been the biggest beneficiary of misinformation that has portrayed his family in a favorable light."

"Using social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle, AFP has identified the biggest super-spreader accounts of

A separate review of election-related videos on YouTube showed that several vloggers and content creators produced videos to either set praise Marcos Jr and his family or sow discord among other presidential contenders.

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