The administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. will implement a Digital Media Literacy campaign this year, seeking to equip the most vulnerable communities with knowledge and tools “to be discerning of the truth,” a Presidential Communications Office (PCO) official said.
PCO Undersecretary Cherbett Karen Maralit issued the statement during the CyberSafe Against Fake News: Being Smart, Being Safe and Staying Ahead! Ensuring Women and Girls a Safe Online Experience, which is a side event to the 67th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) at the UN headquarters in New York.
Maralit noted that the Philippine Congress has tasked the PCO to address the growing concern on misinformation and disinformation, especially in the digital landscape.
“Backed by the budgetary support from the Philippine Congress and its confidence in the leadership of the PCO, we took the opportunity to develop mechanisms through which we can bring the online experiences of females of all ages into focus,” the PCO undersecretary said.
In her remarks, the PCO official also noted that “crucially, in this age of plenteous and insistent information, the rights of women and girls continue to be undermined by disinformation and misinformation.”
“The PCO, therefore, is positioning itself as a pillar that upholds the rights and welfare of women and girls through a Digital Media Literacy Campaign that will focus on our most vulnerable communities,” Maralit pointed out.
“Taking a context-based and factual grassroots approach, we intend to reach out to, and equip, these communities with knowledge and skills and tools that will enable them to be discerning of the truth as they engage in various social media channels and platforms,” Maralit added.
Maralit said the two-fold path involves the active collaboration by PCO with the private sector, including the stakeholders of the broadcast industry, to establish effective mechanisms against fake news.
The PCO will also guide the public toward a place of strength where they have the ability to understand and identify false, incomplete or inaccurate information.
“We will work to improve the citizenry’s ability to think critically and analyze information. The first step towards this end is identifying reliable and credible sources of information,” Maralit said, noting that the office “wish to achieve this goal with both sensitivity, balance and respect for constitutional rights.”
Maralit said a thorough study will be conducted this month throughout the Philippines, which seeks to refine the target communities where media literacy is most needed; determine the social media platforms through which these communities are most susceptible to fake news; and identify the contents and topics on which these misinformation and disinformation focus.
The study also hopes to identify the profiles of fake news peddlers; understand the influences that open these communities to deceptions and understand the practices and habits of the target communities that create the opportunities for exposure to disinformation and misinformation.
“When we have gathered the results of this study, expectedly by the middle of this year, we will be implementing a nationwide media literacy campaign that will focus on the areas identified,” the PCO official said.
By the end of this year, Maralit said, the PCO will be closing the campaign with a Media Literacy Summit, where speakers from organizations such as Facebook, Google, and the Philippine Commission on Women, among others, will be invited “in the hope that they will share equal commitment to this cause.”
Maralit also reported that pieces of legislation on media literacy have also been introduced in both Houses of Philippine Congress.
The measures seek to institutionalize the effort of our Department of Education to include Media and Information Literacy (MIL) as a core subject in the current curriculum of basic and secondary education.
Maralit discussed the challenges in integrating MIL in the basic education curriculum, such as the misconception about the MIL course as an educational technology-related subject, the lack of training for MIL teachers, and the need to consider MIL as a core subject by tertiary education institututions (TEIs).
“The PCO shall work with the public [education] sector to help address these challenges,” she said.
“We need the help of MIL experts, specialists, and established organizations to lend their strengths and help us in achieving the kind of Filipino society we wish to see where all are free to realize their best,” the PCO official stressed.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) discussed the measures it implemented to empower vulnerable populations to discern true and accurate information from fake news and to report any such abuses.
In her speech, CHR Commissioner Fayda Dumarpa said they have implemented Lila ang Kulay ng Boto Ko Campaign (Purple is the color of my vote), an education drive on women’s right to suffrage.
CHR also created an online reporting portal for gender-based violence “to provide a platform for women and girls to report and seek assistance on different forms of violence either committed offline or in online spaces, including those arising from disinformation and misinformation.”
“The Philippine Commission on Human Rights hopes that through these examples, we are able to highlight that in the fight against disinformation and misinformation, it is crucial that we directly consult, engage and actively seek the critical and meaningful participation of the most vulnerable sectors of our society such as women and girls in vulnerable situations with special needs and by doing so, we truly leave no one behind,” Dumarpa said.
Catherine R. Cueto