Senator Robin Padilla (PNA file photo) 

MANILA – Senator Robinhood Padilla on Tuesday said that freedom of speech must not be used to malign others and trample their rights by using disinformation.

Padilla, during the joint hearing of the Senate Committees on Public Information and Mass Media and Justice and Human Rights on Senate Bill No. 1296, which seeks to outlaw the creation and dissemination of fake news by amending the Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, said freedom of expression should never be abused adding perpetrators of disinformation should be punished.

"Hindi pwedeng kapag sinabi nating kalayaan pwede mo nang tapak-tapakan ang kapwa mo, gumawa ka ng imbento, hindi naman siguro ganun. Kailangan talaga pag sinabing kalayaan e pantay-pantay tayo diyan. Di pwede yan na wala tayong susundin na batas kaya tayo may batas, kaya tayo may kalayaan gumawa ng batas para sundin natin. Di pwedeng free-for-all ito para tayong nagsusuntukan lang sa bar di pupuwede. Kailangan sumunod sa batas (We cannot allow people to use the freedom of expression to trample on the rights of others by using fabricated stories. When we say freedom, we are all equal. We cannot have a situation similar to a free-for-all inside a bar. We should craft a law that everyone will follow)," he said.

At the start of the hearing, Ellen Tordesillas, founder of VERA Files, urged the Senate not to use the term “fake news” in legislation saying that the phrase is oxymoron, adding that anything false can never be considered as news.

Tordesillas said the problem of the bill is by using “fake news”, adding that even the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) does not use the term, insisting that “fake news” cannot be used in legislation, since there is no correct definition of “fake news”.

Padilla pointed out there is nothing wrong with creating content on news and social media platforms. But if the freedom of expression is abused and weaponized against others is another matter, saying there is really a need for a law to ensure punishment for those who abuse the constitutional right to "freedom of expression."

"Pag nilagyan na natin ng malisya na gusto mo siraan ang tao, yan ay mali na. Yan ho ang pagtapak na sa karapatan ng kapwa mo. At dapat lang yan may karampatang penalty (When we add malice in an attempt to destroy another person's reputation, that is not right. That is violating the rights of a fellow person. And there should be a penalty for that)," he said.

Senator Raffy Tulfo, on the other hand, said social media and other platforms must be registered in the country to ensure their accountability. (PNA)