Marcos Jr. administration moves to fight 'fake news'

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 18 2023 10:25 PM

MANILA - President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s Presidential Communication Office will go to schools to strengthen its campaign against disinformation and misinformation in the country, PCO Secretary Cheloy Garafil said Monday.

The program’s main objective is to reorient the public, especially the youth about the importance of factual information, the Secretary said.

At the Senate Finance Committee hearing Monday, PCO Undersecretary Emerald Ridao said they based their upcoming program on the result of their conducted survey which states that “9 out 10” people are vulnerable to "fake news".

In the said survey, the youth turned out to be the most vulnerable, Ridao said.

Garafil said their Media Information Literacy Campaign launched last month, will engage the youth and enter schools and communities.

She said their main objective is to teach people how to distinguish fake information from factual ones.

“Kaya sya naging in partnership with the DSWD, with the DepEd, with the CHED, DILG kasi nga magiging whole of government approach sya. Para nga i-empower natin yung youth. Para ma-discern nila on their own kung ano yung fake news o hindi,” Garafil told journalists.

The majority of fake information that they receive, according to Garafil, victimize government programs like those involving the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and known personalities.

Garafil told the panel that the PCO has no "trolls".

“Yung tungkol sa celebrities, yung mga bata. Like sa Pilipinas, makikita natin yung DSWD number 1 na nagiging source ng disinformation. Yung mga ayuda na binibigay ng gobyerno. Yung iba naman talagang character assassination... nun naming nakikita na yung mga bata talaga ang mas pinaka-mas vulnerable,” Garafil said.

“Kunwari may mga tao sa gobyerno, mga politicians, mga celebrities. Kumbaga ang dami, sa YouTube, sa Twitter, maraming, well, hindi outright lies. Kami rin sa PCO marami rin kaming nakikita, if you can see, may mga disinfomation din na binabato din sa PCO,” she added.

But unlike in other countries where some governments barred Tiktok or other social media platforms, the Philippines instead will maximize these to promote awareness to the public, including senior citizens. 

Garafil junked speculations that the said campaign will be also used as a platform for historical revisionism.

“Hindi naman kami mage-engage ng anything revision, revisionism na sinasabi nila. On the contrary.. kaya nga ito hindi fact-checking tool ito. Gusto naming ma-empower ang tao especially yung youth. Para sila mismo makita nila, on their own makita nila kung ano talaga yung totoo o hindi. So, wala kaming ire-revise dito,” she said.

“Ang gusto natin bigyan natin sila ng tools. Sarili nila, makapag-discern sila ng mas maayos. Hindi lang yung pag nakita nila, maniniwala na aga sila,” she added.

Garafil said providing factual information about the West Philippine Sea, will be also part of their advocacy.

Garafil and the PCO presented the agency’s submitted proposed budget for 2024 amounting to around P1.79 billion plus P128.914 million for GOCCs before the Senate Finance Committee meeting, or a total of around P1.92 billion.

The PCO seeking an additional P410.699 million for the regularization of its 100 employees.

PTV-4 seeks to become 'top 2 Philippine TV station'

At the hearing, People’s Television Network, Inc., General Manager Analisa Puod underlined her leadership’s target to be the country’s number 2 station by year 2024.

But her ultimate goal is to make PTV4 the country’s most watched TV station in the country.

“Our goal for next year is to become number 2. Conservatively, yun po ang aming gustong ma-achieve. And hopefully, within the next few years po, mag-number 1 ang PTV sa lahat ng station sa buong Pilipinas,” Puod declared.

“Yan po ang marching order ng PCO at ni Presidente na maging number 1 nga po ang PTV nationwide,” she added.

But all these she said, can only be achieved with the proper funding, as this would entail the procurement of additional transmitters, other equipment, its own building, and a decent broadcast complex, she said.
Part of the idea is to become another Warner Brothers or Universal Studios which will not only cater news content, but also documentaries, educational, cultural, inspirational, sports, and e-sports. 

They are also set to revise their programming and will introduce 13-14 sets of television programs.

Puod’s optimism brought about by their expected funding support from Congress meantime, was in contrast to that of IBC-13’s fate which was sequestered after the EDSA Revolution, and until now, remains a candidate for privatization, but with no clear taker.

Garafil reported to panel vice chairman Senator JV Ejercito that IBC-13 and the National Printing Office for year 2024 received another “zero” budget from the Department of Budget and Management.

“While IBC-13 requested a budget of around P827 million, the DBM did not grant the same. Since the GOCC still categorizes it for privatization as per the latest GCG report,” Garafil said.

“Last year during the plenary budget deliberation, there was an agreement that the unpaid retirement benefits owned by the government towards retirees should be once and for all be settled. Unfortunately, during the bicameral meeting somewhere along the discussions, the proposal of the Senate was apparently not carried out,” Ejercito said.

IBC-13 General Manager Jimmy Policarpio said the network was not given their needed allotment for the retirees, save for the P123 million for personnel services and another P64 million for the retirees, which remained insufficient.

Policarpio reiterated his recommendation to be given their needed P500 million to finally settle their retirement package obligations to the 137 retired IBC-13 employees, who 25 have already died.

For years 2023-2024, 20 IBC-13 employees will also retire.

“For every delay, 6 percent is added to the total retirement (package) due to the retirees. So, in order to solve the problem which has been dragging on for years, since way back to 2002, I strongly suggest a one-time big-time allocation in order to wipe out all the retirement payout,” Policarpio said.

The budget allotted for retired employees last year was divided equally, which only amounted to P400,000, he said.

With zero budget in the offing, broadcast station officials are still working to produce some television programs under a partnership or co-production agreement.

Some of the projects with “bright” chances include a possible television program to be hosted by Willie Revillame, and a revival of the public service program, “Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko,” Policarpio said.

“Looking bright siya,” Garafil said when asked about the status of IBC-13’s negotiation with Revillame.

Garafil said the PCO is also appealing for the relaxation of a policy for IBC-13.

“Meron kaming sinuggest (suggest) sa House of Representatives na para i-sustain yung mga programs, we would like to request Congress the maglagay ng provision sa GAA (General Appropriations Act) to at least yung mga government agencies, to allot a portion of their information campaign budget sa mga government stations,” Garafil said.

“At least hindi masuportahan sila that way... in the long run, hindi na naming kailangang manghingi ng budget,” she added.

Asked if there is really a possibility of sudden unemployment of IBC-13 employees in the event that Congress fails to allot a budget, Garafil said: “Yes Ma’am. Kasi wala talaga silang ano. Tapos, wala rin naman silang income to sustain.”

“So, gagawan ng paraan. I’m very confident naman na ang Kongreso will see it. Every year naman, nagbibigay sila ng supplemental budget, or nagdadagdag sila talaga ng budget for IBC-13,” Garafil said.

Both the PCO and its attached agencies’ proposed budget and the P103.806 million budget of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) were able to pass the Senate Finance Committee’s scrutiny.

The next step is a plenary debate on the budget of the two agencies.


Watch more News on iWantTFC