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Poe bill seeks to bar officials from spreading ‘fake news’

Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media chair Grace Poe filed a bill which would prohibit government officials from peddling "fake news."

Senate Bill No. 1680 seeks to amend Sections 4(b) and 7 of Republic Act No. 6713 otherwise known as the "Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards from Public Officials and Employees."

Under the proposed measure, public officials and employees of government agencies, instrumentalities, offices and departments, especially those tasked to disseminate information or news, are barred from publishing, disseminating or causing to publish or disseminate false news or information.

"It is thereby the goal of this legislative measure to hold public officials to higher standards in the advent of the unavoidable continuous rise of the influence of internet penetration brought by social media by amending pertinent provisions of RA 6713," Poe said in her bill's explanatory note.

The senator pointed out that government officials  were "official" sources of information, and their pronouncements thus had the presumption of truthfulness, reliability and accuracy.

The Senate public information committee had been holding hearings on fake news, during which government officials were criticized for continuing to operate as pro-Duterte bloggers.

Poe has previously warned that fake news, if left unchecked, cultivated "a culture of lying” and created "lynch mobs” that could destroy people and institutions. — Margaret Claire Layug/DVM, GMA News