Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was quoted in an interview as saying: "The reason why social media in the Philippines, the DDS has grown as big as it is, is in reaction to the fact that traditional media really does not report the truth." Presidential Photo/Ace Morandante, File

NUJP: 'Former ally' Roque now a fake news peddler
Kristine Joy Patag (philstar.com) - February 9, 2018 - 3:40pm

MANILA, Philippines — From an ally of the press, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has become a "true blue peddler of 'fake news,'" the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said.

Roque was quoted in an interview with social media user Franco Mabanta as saying: "The reason why social media in the Philippines, the DDS (Diehard Duterte Supporters) has grown as big as it is, is in reaction to the fact that traditional media really does not report the truth."

With a lawyer who once handled high-profile cases on human rights making that kind of statement, NUJP said that Roque has just "completed his metamorphosis."

READ: Roque denies endorsing fake news

"We are tempted to call his transformation shameful but for the fact that we seriously doubt he even knows shame anymore," the NUJP said.

The journalists' group also slammed Roque for 'displaying a mastery of 'creative imagination,'" a statement that was used by his predecessor Ernesto Abella as advice for the press reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte's colorful speeches.

"Like his principal, he has acquired a penchant for accusing media of making him look bad by doing what they ought to—reporting his pronouncements accurately with the proper context and background," NUJP said.

Duterte has repeatedly launched heated tirades against media for their supposedly "biased" and "unfair" coverage, a remark parroted by his supporters in social media against journalists.

"There can be no worse spokesman than one who cannot talk straight then blames the messenger for his muddled message," the group said.

Prior to his stint as Duterte spokesman, Roque said he was ready to hurl figurative hollow blocks at the president's critics.

While the NUJP admitted that the media are not "infallible" and have slipped up, they argued that the members of the press have "more often than not, corrected with the proper apologies issued."

"[T]he bulk of media content is as accurate as the rigorous vetting stories are subjected to can be," they argued.

"Try as they might, Roque and his fellow purveyors of deceit can never hope to replace media for, in the end, the truth will come out," the NUJP added.

The spread of fake news has been widely seen by experts as a major global threat with its reported ability to manipulate elections and imperil democracies.

RELATED: Facebook: A tool for democracy or global business?

The Senate has held two hearings in aid of legislation on fake news, however, Sen. Grace Poe said that the Congress "cannot legislate thought control."

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