OF THE CONSORTIUM ON DEMOCRACY AND DISINFORMATION
A national network of journalists, academics, and civil society representatives
Condemn Cayetano Congress for damaging democracy, spreading disinformation
The Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation denounces the decision of the Committee on Legislative Franchises to reject a new franchise for the ABS-CBN network. Despite the manifest unfairness of the hearings conducted, and the miraculously efficient 40-page report the Technical Working Group released 24 hours or so after the last hearing, the Cayetano Congress could not and cannot stop the truth from coming out: Other government agencies proved that the main issues thrown at ABS-CBN were baseless.
For the Cayetano Congress to insist that these issues remain valid is to spread disinformation.
The Department of Justice confirmed that network chair emeritus Gabby Lopez is a natural-born Filipino. The Securities and Exchange Commission testified that both ABS-CBN and GMA networks use Philippine Depositary Receipts and that they are not “evidence of ownership.” The National Telecommunications Commission acknowledged that ABS-CBN did not violate its franchise with its multiple TVPlus programs. The Bureau of Internal Revenue proved that the network had no tax delinquencies. The Department of Labor and Employment said in its opinion ABS-CBN was compliant with labor standards (although, to be certain, other labor issues remain). To insist, as Rep. Rodante Marcoleta has done and the TWG report smoothly rationalizes, that these statements from government agencies do not matter and only “the will of Congress” does is to abuse a power granted by the Constitution, in order to spread disinformation.
The worst disinformation is to assert that denying the country’s largest news network a new franchise is not a press freedom issue. The TWG report itself devotes four pages to matters of editorial content: alleged “biased reporting, inappropriate program content and political meddling.” To insist, as the report does in its conclusion, that this is “in no way related to the freedom of the press” is to spread disinformation.
Insisting on the so-called will of Congress at the expense of the truth is an abuse of power that damages essential traditions and institutions: predictability of rules, accountability of government officials, evidence-based policy-making. The Cayetano Congress used this will to prevent a news organization, however imperfect, from speaking truth to power. That’s the truth.
(Retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and retired Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales was one of the main speakers at the 2nd Democracy and Disinformation Conference. We are sharing with you her speech before the conference participants.)
(This is the keynote speech delivered via Skype on April 22, 2019 by Bishop Pablo Virgilio David on the occasion of the 2nd Democracy and Disinformation Conference. Bishop Ambo’s speech was also preceded by a short interview with Patricia Evangelista.)
Truth in the Age of Disinformation Bishop Ambo David
Some time ago, I saw a film about professional political strategists who do consultancy work for politicians, especially those who are still aspiring for public office. Their work consists basically in packaging their candidate’s campaign in such a way that the public opinion, which they gauge through surveys, is influenced and swayed favorably—meaning, in favor of their candidate.
The opening scene is an interview with the character Jane Bondine (played by Sandra Bullock), being considered for a job. First question is, “Did you ever work for politicians you did not believe in?” (Her answer: “Sure, I could convince myself many things if the price is right.) Second question: “How important is honesty?” (Answer: “Oh, truth is relative in politics. The truth is what I tell the electorate the truth is.”)
We are very honored to have two distinguished personalities as our main speakers for the 2nd Democracy and Disinformation Conference.
Our keynote speaker, who will talk about Truth in the Age of Disinformation, is Bishop Pablo Virgilio David.
Bishop David (more fondly called Bishop Ambo) was ordained priest in 1983. He took his AB Pre-Divinity at the Ateneo de Manila University and his MA in Theology from the Loyola School of Theology. He received his Doctorate in Sacred Theology in 1991 from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.
Join us on April 22-23, 2019 for the 2nd Conference on Democracy and Disinformation at the UP Bonifacio Global City auditorium. The conference is hosted by the Department of Journalism, UP College of Mass Communication. Our theme is “Disinformation and Democratic Decay: Why deceptive information erodes democratic institutions, and how to fight forward”.
As we excitedly prepare for the 2nd Conference on Democracy and Disinformation, here is a chance to look back at the sessions from last year’s first Democracy and Disinformation Conference (February 12-13, 2018).
(Note: Last February 2018, the Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation held a two-day conference at the Ateneo de Manila University Professional Schools, Rockwell. One of the guest speakers was Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen. We are reproducing his closing remarks, with permission, below.)
Democracy and Disinformation Our Fundamental Freedoms Closing Remarks Day 1: February 12, 2018 Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, Associate Justice, Supreme Court
Thank you for the privilege to address your forum today.
At the onset and for reasons that will be clear soon, allow me to clarify my standpoint.
My legal career before I was appointed to the judiciary mostly entailed working with groups who are mostly labelled as rural, indigenous or peasant. I have also worked with families of the disappeared and victims of human rights violations. I have made representations at various levels of courts including the Supreme Court as well as in various administrative bodies and in the halls of Congress.