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    The Truth On Our Side

    3 March 2017 Misinformation in Social Media Forum, Coalition for Better Education, Cebu Eastern College

    In the 2002 edition of their book, Manufacturing Consent, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky doubted that the Internet could be a democratic media vehicle. They argued that while the Internet was a promising tool for criticism, it would have little potential to influence public discourse. 2002 ito sinabi.

    But this was 15 years ago. And we all know that so much has changed since then. While Herman and Chomsky are two of the thought leaders of our time, we now know that their predictions missed the mark.

    It is 2017, and the Internet is already one of the most compelling forces in shaping public opinion. In 2011, Twitter helped Egyptian activists in toppling the regime of Hosni Mubarak. In the rest of the free world, election campaigns have been waged—and won—entirely on Facebook.

    Pero siyempre alam ninyo iyon.

    Such is the charm, or horror, of social media. Depending on which side of the fence you are on, it either democratizes access to information or monopolizes access to truth by flooding the world of falsehoods.

    But let’s look at the bright side first. Social media crosses national boundaries and bridges cultures, transforming us into citizens of the world. Through Facebook, even the smallest voices can be amplified.

    Pantay-pantay lang tayo sa Facebook, di ba. You don’t have to be wealthy or famous. You don’t need a column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer or The New York Times or a show in ABS-CBN or any of the giant networks.

    Social media has shown us that you can be anyone with a story to share, and that story will be heard. Essentially, anyone can make banners and headlines, bypassing the power of editors and publishers as gatekeepers of information.

    Basta may kuwento tayo pwede na natin i-post. Hindi nagma-matter kung totoo ang kwento o hindi.

    But the democratic nature of social media is also its most troubling weakness. Once upon a time, we entrusted commentary to seasoned journalists and credible analysts. Their work was always subject to careful scrutiny by editors and the larger public alike.

    In those days, factual and balanced reporting was necessary for public discourse. These days, anyone can be an authority. Walang editor-editor. Walang publisher-publisher. Kahit sino puwedeng gumawa ng headline.

    Today, it seems that truth and accuracy are no longer relevant. We are occupying what they call a post-truth world.

    Parati natin ito ngayon naririnig di ba. Ang mundo natin ngayon ay isang post-truth world na. This is a world where facts are not as important as personal biases; where truth takes a backseat to emotion.

    Imagine the velocity by which alternative facts can travel, when all it takes for people to hit “share,” di ba? Isang click lang nandoon na agad lahat.

    For a photo or carefully chosen words to connect with a deep emotion. Siyempre di ba, ako nararamdaman ko iyon. Nag-me-maintain ako ng sariling Facebook page, and most of the time ang pino-post ko tungkol sa trabaho.

    Pag tungkol sa trabaho konti ang interesado. Pero pag kuwento tungkol sa anak ko, kuwento tungkol sa aso namin, o kwento sa bahay, iyon ang napakaraming likes. Bakit kaya ganoon? Kasi iyon ang nagko-connect sa ating emotion.

    Just yesterday, last night pala, fresh attacks on social media were directed at me again. Siguro nababasa ninyo rin ang mga kuwento tungkol sa akin. Lahat sa social media.

    Some of those who wish to attack my integrity and character began a campaign to spread lies. Nakakalungkot nito kasi hindi naman ako kilala, so pag nababasa ang kasinungalingan dahil hindi naman ako kilala, ang tendency maniniwala di ba.

    Their attacks are vicious; not even my children are immune to their assault. Pero bakit kaya nila ito ginagawa? Maraming dahilan.

    Marahil these attacks aim to distract us from urgent issues we are facing today: anu-ano ba ang mga urgent issues that we are facing today? In the past several days our fight against the reimposition of the death penalty, the Lascañas hearings that will commence in the Senate on Monday, Janet Napoles going out of prison, extrajudicial killings, human rights violations, the scandal at the Bureau of Immigration and other relevant issues.

    We also cannot deny that these might be political maneuverings by those who are planning to run for office.

    Iyong mga paninira akala namin matatapos noong eleksyon, sabi namin kampanya lang. Pero kahit tapos na ang eleksyon, ganoon pa din. And hindi lang iyon sa Pilipinas. Mapapansin ninyo kahit sa Amerika ganoon din, and the rest of the world.

    Noong umpisa, we tried to take the high road. Sabi namin dahil hindi naman totoo, huwag nang papansinin. So we tried to ignore the lies going around about myself or my Office.

    Pero anim na buwan ang lumipas, when we were taking the high road hindi kami sumasagot. Parang ang kasinungalingan nagiging totoo na. Kasi ang nababasa lang iyong kasinungalingan, walang nababasang totoo.

    So we realized that every time lies, fake news, or alternative facts are shared, they assume the appearance of truth.

    Parang totoo. Iyong kasinungalingan pag-inuulit-ulit, nagiging totoo. Paminsan kahit iyong nagsinungaling mismo, naniniwala na sa kanyang sinabi. Shall we accept this world? Iyon ang tanong sa atin ngayon.

    Alam natin na nangyayari, tatanggapin nalang ba natin na ito na talaga ang mundo natin ngayon? Shall we surrender the truth to those who want to corrupt it?

    Siyempre ang sagot ko, we must not. We must refuse the deception. The success of our democracy—and the state of our rights and freedoms—will depend on how we protect the truth.

    People have asked me: what do we do, anong dapat na gawin natin, when the lies keep eclipsing the truth?

    Mas marami kasi ang kasinungalingan kaysa iyong katotohanan. How can we even begin to fight misinformation, especially when it’s deployed by an army of paid trolls?

    Alam ko madalas kayo sa social media, it is very easy to pinpoint kung alin ang troll at alin ang hindi. It’s easy to feel powerless now, and to assume that nothing can be done to fight the lies.

    But we must challenge ourselves to uphold the truth and its essential place in public discourse. We must be unafraid to debunk falsehoods, to counter fallacies, and to expose frauds who deceive our people so brazenly.

    Ito na kami ngayon. Kahit alam ninyo kung maraming may kasinungalingan, sabi namin dati huwag nating papansinin, sabi nga ni Michelle Obama di ba, when they go low we go high. Pero mukhang pagdating sa kasinungalingan sa Facebook, hindi iyon pwede.

    Dahil kung hindi mo sinasagot nagiging totoo na ang kanilang sinasabi. Pero pag sinagot mo, lalo ka namang ito-troll. Pero ang tanong, dahil natatakot kang i-troll, hindi mo na ba sasagutin?

    O hindi mo na ba iwawasto? Dapat doon matatag ang ating loob. Kahit alam nating isa-swarm tayo ng army of trolls, dapat dine-debunk pa din natin ang kasinungalingan. Kasi kung hindi natin iyon ico-correct, magiging totoo na sila.

    This is the perfect time to start a campaign against lies and alternative facts, because I stand before you, karamihan dito ay millennials in an event organized by one of an NGOs in the country who has long fought for transparency, accountability, and truth. Iyan ang InciteGov. Iyon ang kanilang pinaglalaban na napaka tagal nang panahon.

    Let’s gather together an army of truth seekers. Kasi ako palagay ko kahit ang daming trolls, mas marami pa din ang kampi sa katotohanan.

    We can be each other’s support group. We can collaborate and expand each other’s strengths.

    Together, let’s seek protection from the law, which defends all citizens from cyber bullying, slander, and invasion of privacy online. Anyone can be a victim, and we must fight this together for the sake of our people.

    Kasi ngayon mayroon naman tayong batas pero pag na-sa-cyber bully ayaw na lang umimik. Kasi istorbo pa. Ayaw nalang umimik kasi baka lalo pang ma-troll. Pero kung hahayaan natin, magiging walang kwenta ang batas. Kung hahayaan nalang natin, ine-encourage pa natin sila na patuloy na sirain ang katotohanan.

    This campaign must also include protecting and supporting messengers of truth, not shooting them down. One of the signs that misinformation in social media requires our collective action is the fact that journalists have become targets of harassment and misinformation—both over the Internet and in real life.

    Hindi ko alam kung napapansin ninyo, iyong mga online trolls ang tinitira na nila ang mga legitimate na journalists. Sinasabi na nila, I don’t know if you see this over Facebook, pero ang tinitira na nila ang journalists kapag nagsasabi ng katotohanan pero against ito sa kanilang pinaglalaban, sasabihin na nila ang sinungaling ang journalists.

    Isn’t it true that in an ideal world, the role of journalists is to reveal the truth so that their readers, viewers, and listeners will make informed decisions?

    It makes sense for those who would want to deceive the public to discredit the media, so they can turn the Internet into the only alternative source of information.

    I don’t know if you notice this now. There is an ongoing campaign or attempt to discredit legitimate media.

    Our country’s media industry, while imperfect, is home to trusted and credible professionals in their field. The Philippine Press Institute’s code of conduct and standards for ethical practice, diniscuss ito kanina, iyong code of conduct, demand that journalists do not suppress essential facts or distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis. Its code aims for accuracy, respects confidentiality, protects private reputation, and enjoins fairness in the method of collecting information.

    As a general rule siyempre parating may exceptions. Iyong mga legitimate journalists, hindi basta-basta nagpaparatang.

    Parating chini-check muna ang facts bago pina-publish. Parating chini-check muna ang sasabihin on TV bago sinasabi dahil iyon dito sa kanilang code of conduct. And this portion of their code is very enlightening.

    It says: “I shall not in any manner ridicule, cast aspersions on or degrade any person by reason of sex, creed, religious belief, political conviction, cultural and ethnic origin.”

    Wouldn’t our world now be less contentious if all of those who claim to report news and information on social media adopt these standards?

    Ang problema kasi sa social media, walang code of conduct na sinusunod ang kung sino-sinong nagpopost. So walang pakialam, walang takot kahit hindi totoo ang ipo-post, wala naman saming mangyayari kung i-post namin ito.

    Journalists and media practitioners need our support in ensuring that these standards are met, rather than persecuted, and treated as if everyone who wears a press badge is dishonest.

    I have heard that those who have covered politics since the election now require psychological debriefing. Mayroon kaming mga kaibigan sa media na ginagawa ang kanyang trabaho, pero dahil sina-swarm na ng mga army of trolls, nangangailangan na ng psychological debriefing.

    And those who are trolled and harassed online have manifested psychological trauma. Hindi natin ma-imagine na dadating tayo sa ganitong punto.

    This is a concern not just for those in the media. This is a concern for all of us who understand that a competent and free press is critical for truth to survive. Remember that silencing the media is an old trick, dati na itong style, in the destruction of democracies and demonizing the press is the mark of dictators.

    To our friends and partners in the media, we urge you to keep defending your integrity, to speak out despite the threats, and to remain courageous in your work.

    We ask you as well to protect the honor of your profession and to hold to account those who tarnish its name.

    For us who have the luxury of time on Facebook—for us who are free to speak as we wish—do not be afraid of those who want to bully you with lies, of those who threaten you into silence.

    Mayroon lang ako ditong kaunting isisingit. I have been quite vocal about my views on certain matters in the past weeks. Sunud-sunod na ang threat sa akin na kung hindi ka hihinto, titirahin na namin ikaw. Hindi nga ako huminto.

    So sabi nila abangan ninyo na ngayong araw, lalabas na lahat ng pagtitira sa iyo. So kung mahina ang aking loob, hihinto nalang ako para ma-spare ang sarili ko, ma-spare ang pamilya ko sa paninira. Pero kung tatahimik ako at tatahimik din ang lahat ng nangangahas na ipahayag ang kanyang saloobin, papaano na ang ating bansa?

    When deceit is forced upon you, resist it with your right to dissent.

    In these divisive times, always remember this: our freedom to speak is accompanied by responsibility for the words we use.

    We may live in a post-truth reality.

    But together, you and I can change that.

    Walang magbabago noon kung hindi tayo.

    With the truth on our side, we are empowered beyond measure, and there is nothing we cannot do.

    Maraming salamat sa InciteGov for coming out with this forum, pero sana after this mayroon tayong to-do na gagawin. Ano iyong to do na iyon.

    Tayong lahat na katotohanan ang hinahanap, magkapit-bisig tayo at maghawak-kamay. Huwag tayong matakot kasi mas marami tayo kaysa kanila.

    Mas marami pa din ang kumakampi sa katotohanan.

    At dapat ang kumakampi sa katotohanan, nagkakampi-kampihan tayo, pinapalakas ang loob ng bawat isa para ang bawat isa sa atin may lakas ng loob labanan ang kasinungalingan.

    Maraming salamat, magandang tanghali muli sa inyong lahat!

    Posted in Speeches on Mar 03, 2017