Gov’t officials active on social media urged to follow ethics code, self-regulate


Posted at Oct 07 2017 10:39 PM

MANILA - Senator Nancy Binay on Saturday urged government officials who post on social media to follow Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

"I think dapat siguro balikan natin iyong code of ethics na lahat kaming nasa gobyerno sakop nito. Iyon na lang siguro dapat ang dapat maging guide kung ang mga pino-post namin ay sumusunod sa code of ethics," Binay told radio DZMM.

During the Senate committee hearing on the proliferation of fake news on Wednesday, the senator said Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux "Mocha" Uson should decide between holding a government office or blogging. 

The Senate committee on public information and mass media began its hearing after Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III last week urged the panel to probe "fake news" allegedly being spread by the "Silent No More PH" blog, which has been critical of the administration.

Invited to the hearing were Uson and Department of Foreign Affairs consultant RJ Nieto of ThinkingPinoy, as well as former Aquino communications team heads Edwin Lacierda, Abigail Valte and Manolo Quezon.

Binay said that, as a public official, Uson is subject to RA 6713.

"I think iyong si Mr. Nieto kasi consultant siya so medyo gray area but iyong, I think, kay Asec. Uson malinaw na malinaw kasi may talagang plantilla position, talagang sakop siya ng Republic Act 6713," she said on Saturday.

"Or siguro maganda, kapag bagong pasok ka sa pamahalaan, dapat siguro may seminar or 'pag pinirmahan mo iyong kontrata nakasama dun iyong alituntunin na dapat mong sundin if you’re part of government."

Meanwhile, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) said the government should impose social media policies like those in the private sector.

"In fact that’s part of good governance now, so that should be the same with the government, more so because they represent official functions. They should make use of official blogs or official platforms to convey their ideas so that there’s no confusion na iyon ay sasabihin niya that’s my opinion," said lawyer Rejie Jularbal, the KBP's legal counsel.

"(Uson)'s an official, the same way that when the president says something, that’s an official statement."

Binay said the Presidential Communications Operations Office and the Department of Information and Communications Technology are working on social media guidelines for government employees.

Like President Rodrigo Duterte, the KBP opposes creating a new law against "fake news" to protect freedom of expression and because there are sufficient laws.

"There’s a bigger constitutional right that has to be protected. And although there’s a danger of fake information, it’s more important to protect the democratic process that we have on the marketplace of ideas," Jularbal said.

"There are sufficient laws. There are laws on libel, slander. If you recall, there’s a presidential decree on rumor-mongering. There are sufficient laws, there’s no need to legislate a new law. In fact if you correlate that with the Cybercrime [Law], nagtutugma rin kasi the cybercrime law adopts the Revised Penal Code," he added.

Jularbal instead suggested that bloggers "self-regulate."

"Ang lumabas sa hearing is they should self-regulate, whatever form that takes. In fact, one of the ideas being put forward was even in the early stages of education, dapat meron nang lessons on proper and ethical journalism," he said.