‘Fake news is already circulating every day. It is the duty of the media to see to it that fake news is not propagated’
MANILA, Philippines – On Thursday, September 28, 2017, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana sought help from the media to fight fake news in the country.
In a training on disaster risk reduction and management organized by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) for the media, the defense chief emphasized the important role of the media to fact-check fake news.
“Fake news is already circulating every day. It is the duty of the media to see to it that fake news is not propagated,” he said, after asking the media’s help to support the government in “facilitating our donations, mobilizing our resources for response, and disseminating information.”
The country has witnessed the rise of unverified posts on social media so much so that even the government officials like Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) assistant secretary Mocha Uson and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre have fallen for the bait of fake news as well.
Late in May, for example, newly appointed PCOO assistant secretary Mocha Uson sought prayers from her online followers for the Philippine Army, accompanying her post with a photo of kneeling uniformed personnel. The photo turned out to be not of Filipino soldiers but of a group of Honduran police. In defense, Uson explained that it was mere symbolism.
In the thick of war in Marawi, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, on the other hand, argued that opposition lawmakers Senator Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, and Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano may have had something to do with the attack of terrorist groups in the city. He backed up his claim with a photo that turned out to be taken a little less than two years ago in Iloilo City.
Media’s role in disaster management
Beyond fighting fake news, Lorenzana also highlighted the role media plays in disaster management.
“The defense department believes that the media plays a very important role in disaster risk management process. You have an important function to inform, educate, and empower communities and individuals,” he said.
As a country prone to disasters, the government, through the leadership of the NDRRMC, has developed the National Disaster Response Plan (NDRP) – a system through which various national government agencies should respond and work together in times of disasters.
With the end goal of strengthening disaster preparedness and fostering a culture of resilience, Lorenzana highlighted the role of the media in disseminating relevant information about NDRP to the public.
“You have the power to influence public action towards disaster preparedness,” he added.
On Tuesday to Friday, September 26 to 29, NDRRMC organized an advanced course training for members of the media in Subic, Zambales. The course which aims to equip media with relevant knowledge about the country’s DRRM system tackled different topics such as the NDRP, emergency response preparedness (ERP) and rapid damage assessment.
MovePH’s Agos powered by eBayanihan is one of the existing partners of the NDRRMC and is part of the telecommunications cluster whenever the agency activates the ERP in times of disasters. – Rappler.com