Target of fake news
Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros has been the target of a vicious fake news campaign in social media where critics accuse her of supporting the Maute terrorists. The accusation is plainly stupid and false. It stems from a TV interview where Senator Hontiveros merely expressed her opinion on what constitutes an act of rebellion and invasion — the only reasons that can authorize a Philippine president to declare martial law.
In the same TV interview, Hontiveros stated unequivocally that the Maute group is guilty of terrorism. She also took the pain to explain the difference between terrorism and rebellion. Whereas rebellion has an ideological motivation, terrorism has none as its intent is to sow fear and terror among the public. No less than the late senator Miriam Defensor Santiago used the same interpretation in a different context — “When there is no ideological motivation, there is no rebellion.”
Beyond the noise of online fake news, Hontiveros raised several interesting points. In fact, they are the very same points being deliberated on by our Supreme Court justices. Granted that the Maute group has committed terrorist acts, why should the government insist in branding Maute as rebels? Is it to justify martial rule? What are the grounds for defining Maute’s terrorism as an act of rebellion and/or invasion that warrants the declaration of martial law in Mindanao?
Senator Hontiveros challenged the premises of President Duterte’s declaration and rightly so, because that is her task as a lawmaker. This duty is driven by the same spirit enshrined in the constitutional mandate that provides the platform to deliberate on executive prerogatives such as martial rule.
A joint session would have been the opportunity to review the President’s reasons, as well as to clarify the true state of affairs in Marawi City. Such platform is vital to maintaining an engaged citizenship as it keeps the public up-to-date on the hard facts on the ground, and prevents them from being victimized by disinformation, black propaganda, and false news in social media.
Hontiveros was correct to raise such issues; by so doing, she underscored how imperative it is for Congress to convene a joint session to talk about the President’s decision to place Mindanao under martial law.
AARON ROM O. MORALINA,
Barangay Sampaloc III, Piela, Dasmariñas City
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