Solon brands alleged SEA Games 'fake news' as 'unpatriotic, inciting to sedition'
The deliberate act of spreading false reports about the Philippines' hosting of the Southeast Asian Games can be deemed as treason and inciting to sedition, a lawmaker said Friday.
Three Facebook blog pages allegedly used troll farms to "boost" and gain "more shares" on their posts about problems in the SEA Games, including the alleged serving of a street food snack to athletes, said Kabayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo.
"That's just not unpatriotic, I suppose that's treason on the part of the person doing it," said Salo, who chairs the House public information committee.
"Treason is the lighter word, but basically, there's a criminal offense against this. It's called inciting to sedition because you are basically calling for hate against the government," he said.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines earlier said it was "ridiculously unacceptable" for officials to bash the media for its reporting of the SEA Games.
The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines said it was "totally unacceptable" to accuse the press of being bribed to cover the SEA Games hosting negatively.
A House inquiry will look into the alleged fake news, said Salo.
False reports about the regional event also included a supposed unfinished stadium and the alleged use of the Philippine flag as a table skirt, said the congressman.
Salo urged the media to practice "extreme caution" in their SEA Games coverage and report "something that would boost the morale of the people."
The country's fourth hosting of the regional event was earlier criticized for troubles in the transport and lodging of athletes, inadequate meals, unfinished game venues, and the accreditation of foreign press, among others.
Salo said he was also in favor of a call to investigate the mishaps.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano chairs the private entity that led preparations for the SEA Games. Asked how this might influence the investigation, Salo said, "As of the moment I couldn't give a categorical answer to that."