MANILA- The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility does not see the need for a separate law intended for penalizing those spreading fake news.
Vergel Santos, CMFR chair, argued that current laws against libel and slander already provide enough safeguards against fake news. He added that such a law may also be used against journalists.
"It becomes a matter of motive now. There is false information unwittingly spread and there is false information that is maliciously spread. It's in the law. If you look at law of libel and slander, it will give you an idea of these sort of things. That's it. That's why I can't understand how any practical legislation could somehow resolve the problem," he said in an interview with ANC Monday.
Sen. Joel Villanueva has filed a bill which seeks to penalize any person or group who maliciously spreads false news or information in traditional and online media platforms.
Villanueva's proposed Senate Bill 1492 defines false news or information as "those which either intend to cause panic, division, chaos, violence, and hate, or those which exhibit a propaganda to blacken or discredit one's reputation."
Under the bill, any person proven guilty of creating or distributing fake news will face a fine ranging from P100,000 to P5 million and 1 to 5 years of imprisonment.
University of the Philippines Journalism Associate Prof. Danilo Arao shared Santos' sentiments, calling the Senate bill "extreme" and "problematic."
'I don't think fake news law will be able curb fake news the way it wants to in the sense that it only sends chilling effect. It's like burning down the house to kill a cockroach," he said.
"It's a very, very extreme measure and we don't want censorship in the media to be the solution to curbing false information...It all boils down to self-regulation, media literacy and media education," he added.