The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), along with key government agencies led by the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) during the launch of the Media Information and Literacy (MIL) campaign on Monday (August 14) in Pasay City.
During the MIL launch at the Hilton Manila in Pasay City, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr led the signing of the MIL commitment wall and proceeded to witness the signing of the MOU among key agencies on the MIL Project led by the PCO and participated in by the DSWD, Department of Education (DepEd), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
President Marcos, in his message, emphasized that the MIL campaign targets the youth as they “are the most involved” and that “internet are part of their life”.
“But we must give them the tools to be able to look and see what are the things we are reading… totoo ba ito?,” the President pointed out.
“Maybe it’s time that we give our kids, not only our kids but our citizenry, the tools to be able for them to tell what is important, what is not, what is relevant, where are the sources of these information come from,” President Marcos said.
Those who signed the MOU were DSWD Undersecretary for Innovations Eduardo Punay, PCO Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil, DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr, CHED) Chairperson J. Prospero De Vera III and representatives from the private sector.
Under the MOU, the DSWD shall incorporate the MIL Project in its social protection programs, provide support to the conduct of trainings related to the Project in targeted communities and assistance in disseminating MIL information materials.
Undersecretary Punay, who represented DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian, pointed out the importance of the whole-of-nation-approach and “collaboration in fighting misinformation and disinformation”.
“I know the necessity for a war on fake news and how this battle needs a whole of nation approach to be won,” Usec. Punay said in his message.
The DSWD official also shared a situation where hundreds of senior citizens flocked to the DSWD offices for a supposed payout of social pension caused by a fake Facebook post, emphasizing that it “showed how our poor beneficiaries are given false hope and caused frustration”.
“Our experiences in the DSWD prove the need to come up with a more effective way to combat fake news,” Usec. Punay said.
The PCO, on the other hand, shall act as the lead agency for the MIL Project, pursuant to its mandate to serve as the primary office in the Executive Branch to engage and involve the public and mass media in enriching the quality of public discourse in all matters of governance, and its responsibility to craft, formulate, develop, enhance and coordinate the messaging system of the Executive Branch and the Office of the President.
In her message, PCO Secretary Garafil said the MIL Project aims to ensure that every Filipino student is equipped to fight fake news.
“We will enable them to navigate the digital world with discernment and responsibility. In doing so, we hope to raise a society of synthesizers, those who are able to use the right information at the right time for the right purpose to make the right choices,” the PCO chief said.
Secretary Garafil said the partner agencies which signed the MOU on MIL will collaborate with the PCO on a comprehensive execution plan crafted to address the root causes of the issue.
Secretary Garafil, likewise, noted that social media companies and their platforms are expected to collaborate with the government by providing tools and training to fight disinformation and misinformation. Among these are Google (YouTube), Meta (Facebook, Instagram, and Threads), TikTok, and X (formerly Twitter).
Based on the MOU, the DepEd shall oversee the crafting of the nationwide survey’s framework and questions, recommend participants of the Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) among MIL practitioners, partake in the development of an educator’s and learner’s MIL manual, and incorporate the crafted manual through the MIL Project in the country’s basic educational curriculum.
The CHED, on the other hand, shall perform the same as the DepEd, alongside its other task to foster coordination and collaboration of concerned parties with state universities and colleges (SUCs).
The DILG, meanwhile, shall assist in coordinating with local government units (LGUs) on-the-ground activities that advance the goals of the MIL Project, and foster coordination and collaboration with the Sangguniang Kabataan of each LGU and with the National Youth Commission (NYC).