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All of society need to defend truth all the time: Asian Liberals

ILOILO CITY — All of society need to defend truth applying various weapons, according to various participants in the international conference here seeking to “build a democratic coalition against disinformation.”

Phil Bennion, vice president of Liberal International, suggested that pro-truth political leaders counter disinformation “consistently and more aggressively and robustly” and not only during electoral campaigns.

“Don’t wait until campaign. Present a positive vision. Counter everything with the same tenacity during campaigns between elections…Don’t let false statements pass…We have to dig down. We have to dig deep and do it consistently then truth can win over disinformation,” said Bennion, a former Member of the European Parliament representing United Kingdom.

Former Senator Kiko Pangilinan, who filed a cyber-libel case against Google for allowing libelous posts on its YouTube platform, said government, the private sector, academe, the advertising industry, young people, and other stakeholders must come together to address the challenges of disinformation.

Pangilinan cited a statement from big business groups expressing their alarm over the abuse of social media through the spread of lies, personal attacks, trolling, misogyny, and red-tagging in December 2021. “Business, for instance, can fight disinformation by not advertising in social media posts that promote lies and disinformation. This can be done via self-regulation, administrative circulars…There are many ways to skin a cat,” he said.

Former Senate President Frank Drilon said the problem is global with significant implications on the future of democracy and the observance of human rights and the rule of law.

“In a world of digital disinformation, everyone has become vulnerable – to being a target and unwitting purveyor of disinformation/misinformation, to data hacking and harvesting, to cyber-attacks and cyber-bullying, even surveillance and censorship,” Drilon said.

“Given the wide-ranging scope of the problem, the possible solutions should also mobilize all stakeholders – the international community, government institutions, political parties, civil society organizations, the media, tech and social media companies, educational institutions, among others,” he added.

Drilon cited the disinformation campaigns that ran parallel to the recently concluded elections in the US and Brazil, as well as in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine and the upcoming local elections in Taiwan.

Former Congressman Kit Belmonte said that while the Philippine Liberal candidates failed in the May 2022 elections, a pink movement was created.

“This means not all is lost. The challenge is how to harness this movement, and how to use it in the fight against disinformation…[which] in massive dosage is deadly. A pushback is the imperative,” Belmonte said.

Former Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the internet has amplified both freedom of expression, as well as libel, disinformation, and misleading others. He said what is needed is amplified responsibility.

Political leaders, journalists, teachers, and artists from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Mongolia, Indonesia, and Cambodia gather at the Iloilo Convention Center for two days to craft action points to defend and propagate truth.

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