Random Thoughts

TAMAYO’S DRAFT ORDINANCE — The draft ordinance proposed by Councilor Jose Netu Tamayo seeking to penalize the spreading, reporting and publishing of fake news and misinformation is most welcome and needs the support of everybody in Dagupan City.

The good citizens of Dagupan need a respite from some people with probably sick minds (what else?) who have the penchant to cause a stir, or have a political agenda but prefer to hide under the cloak of anonymity, which is deplorable.

Whoever these people are, they are a bunch of cowards, afraid to come out in the open, obviously afraid to be slapped with a case of libel.

They, posturing as card-bearing members of the media, are mistaken to believe that they are covered by the mantle of press freedom guaranteed by the Constitution. In the words of Atty. Tamayo, the highest law of the land “does not allow the dangerous proliferation of falsities and destruction of human lives.”

Recall that one demented individual put the entire city of Dagupan in panic and hysteria when he posted a warning in the social media for people to avoid the Christmas fair site on Jose de Venecia Expressway, where a bomb he said had just exploded that killed 10 people and injured scores of others.

This was, of course, belied by no less than Police Chief Neil Miro who denounced that news as a blatant lie, the work of some demented mind who just wanted to sow fear among Dagupeños during the merry-making days.

This was not the first and the last. Weeks prior, the same group circulated a rumor that Mayor Belen was suspended which of course wasn’t true. The fact is she was never suspended.  They followed this up circulating the buzz that the hizzoner will be suspended and the documents ordering her suspension was forthcoming. One lady TV reporter, who must have got wind too of the fake news, naively asked the mayor about her ‘suspension.’ And the hizzoner was forthright. “That’s a lie”.

Then when the mayor joined a Philippine mission to USA, the disinformation did not stop. The evil minds claimed that the reason the mayor was not visible in Dagupan was because she was already serving her suspension.

Dagupan is not the lone place in the Philippines where fake news and disinformation proliferate as Councilor Tamayo pointed out . He said disinformation, especially in cyberworld, has now become a worldwide concern.

The only problem with Atty. Tamayo’s draft ordinance is how to identify the purveyors of fake news since they are not expected to come out in the open and own up to their misdeeds. I also doubt if the city council has the capacity to probe Facebook for allowing lies to be posted. Another issue is jurisdiction. If the user posted the seemingly derogatory post in Calasiao, can Atty. Tamayo, granting he was able to get wind of the fellow’s identity, run after the guy since Calasiao is outside Dagupan? – Leonardo Micua

NOTHING NEWSWORTHY— I stopped momentarily going to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) session for news coverage late last year onward to January this year.

First is personal and the other, lack of newsworthy resolutions/ordinances discussed by members of SP.

Sayang ang time at effort,” I told myself then when I started to observe that most of the resolutions tackled were about giving authority to the governor to enter into an agreement with so and so group or upgrading provincial government-owned hospital or to buy equipment, and the like. (If I were the editor, such news would surely go to trash unless these are paid stories or for PR purposes).

I returned to my usual coverage on Feb. 6. Again, up for discussion in their last session were the same “less interesting” resolutions in the agenda.  And I noticed there were only about five newsmen present compared to previous Sanggunian when the entire gallery fronting the session hall was filled by media alone.

At the gallery, one would hear fellow newsmen saying, “Walang kwenta na naman ang nasa agenda.” Another commented, “Asan na ang mga bright ideas ng mga bokal?”

Still another broadcaster, suddenly left the session on seeing the agenda. “Walang balita,” he uttered.

If newsmen say walang kwenta, it means it’s not newsworthy, not worth giving precious radio airtime and space in newspapers.

The SP used to have Question Hour on relevant issues. It was like watching intelligent senators in the Senate when our board members like then Board Member Alfie Bince intelligently probed invited guests.

Pero ngayon, parang inter-department concern na lang ng provincial government ang nasa agenda,” another fellow newsman uttered. Then, a female friend asked me, “Atchie, anong balita sa sesyon?”

I responded wryly, “Wala kang na missed, atchie.”—Tita Roces