The downfall of Poe’s political future
HOTSPOT - Mocha Uson (The Philippine Star) - March 20, 2018 - 12:00am

As what has already been repeatedly established in the past three hearings on “fake news,” there are more than enough laws to fight against misinformation and disinformation. We have Article 154, Section 18 of the Revised Penal Code to sanction “any person who by means of printing, lithography, or any other means of publication shall publish or cause to be published as news any false news which may endanger the public order, or cause damage to the interest or credit of the State.” We also have Articles 353-359 of the Revised Penal Code for libel related acts.

These laws have long been promulgated and are supposed to be implemented accordingly now that the nation is in the middle of an unnecessary war against fake news, so I ask, what is the whole point of these hearings? Because let me remind you that Senate hearings are conducted “in aid of legislation,” however, these hearings on fake news do not serve that purpose. What for are these hearings when we have sufficient laws to address the issue on fake news, misinformation and disinformation in the first place?

If these hearings are being conducted to help treat the nation’s moral compass via lessening “hate speech,” let me just clarify this: bullying, criticism, bashing, or what they call “Hate Speech” are not exclusively being experienced by them or by a particular political side. It is experienced by everyone. In my case alone, even the smallest mistakes are made a big deal. I have been called with ugly and nasty names but I never complained – nor did I sue anybody. Why? It’s because while personally I do not like what it is they are saying about me, as a government official it is my duty to respect and even protect their right to their opinion, i.e. uphold their freedom of speech.

Are these hearings conducted to investigate Cocoy Dayaw? But where is he? Three hearings have been done and yet the committee was not able to summon the person who is supposedly behind the Silent No More page.

Are these hearings done to criticize government officials and limit their freedom to express their opinion? As what we’ve seen in the three hearings, this is highly probable. However, I hope that this would not be the primary objective of these hearings because as much as there are existing laws against false news and purported libel and slander, these laws likewise protect Everyone’s freedom of speech.

In Article III, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution, it states that “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.” What I am trying to say here is that I no longer see any point for such Senate hearings moving forward. These hearings were presented as a way to craft legislative solutions against “fake news,” which I myself supported.

But these three hearings made me question this: are they really about “fake news”? They were able to determine that the laws are enough to combat false information, then why continue with the hearing especially if they continue to be powerless in summoning Dayao, an identified person of interest for Senators Tito Sotto and Manny Pacquiao. On the other hand, if the goal of the hearing is to call on government officials who are vocal in airing their opinion, then let us be clear on this instead of masking under the guise of a Senate hearing on fake news. We have witnessed several government officials in the hearing, including myself grilled by senators for the posts we’ve made on social media. I have already explained my side regarding those posts, yet the controversy has not ended there.

The code of conduct for government officials was cited to urge me to choose between being a blogger and a person in office. In a previous article, I have already explained that the code of conduct for government officials also applies to senators, so why don’t they summon senators who have been slandering the president and his family without solid proof? Indeed, it is all about politics.

For politicians, it is not really about finding and fighting for the truth; you just have to make it look that way. In this case, in my opinion, it’s not about fighting misinformation, disinformation, or fake news. These Senate hearings are for mere public entertainment, a ploy to impress the voting audiences for the upcoming 2019 elections. Of course, capitalizing on the Filipino society’s love for drama is all it takes to make a good impression – to the point that some politicians are using their official capacity to showcase themselves to the public.

But then again, the eyes of Filipinos are no longer blind. They are no longer gullible. They no longer fall for these strategies of traditional politicians. It no longer takes them mere publicity to believe that their elected officials are doing something. You now have to serve the people for them to trust you.

People voted for President Duterte because he is a public servant. They continue to support him because they see and feel his actions. It’s not about being good with words anymore. You have to be a functional. You have to work. You have to deliver. And you have to do your job right.

In this sense, I believe that the political future of Senator Grace Poe is now in danger of going down. While she may be good with words, she seems to have failed in terms of truly serving the people, because had she done so, then there should have been significant progress after three Senate hearings on fake news.

Most importantly, she should have finally discontinued hearings on fake news in order not to squander public funds.

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