Below is the official statement of the Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation on the ‘Oust-Duterte matrix’.
The full text of the statement is below:
The members and partners of the Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation denounce the latest round of attacks on journalists including Maria Ressa, Ellen Tordesillas and Inday Espina Varona and on news organizations including VERA Files, Rappler, and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. The orchestrated nature of these attacks was betrayed by their coordinated launch starting on Easter Monday by the President’s propagandist and on various government-controlled or –influenced channels.
The accusation is unwarranted: None of the individuals and organizations are involved in any ouster plot against the President. (The Armed Forces of the Philippines has already belied any such ouster plot; certainly, none that involves the media.)
But the type of accusation is clear and clearly dangerous: It is meant to target legitimate journalists, and thus to undermine journalism itself. The so-called “matrix” is a perversion of “intelligence” work, pretending to serve national security by faking intelligence analysis against made-up targets. Worse, it forms part of a pattern of harassment and intimidation against the legitimate media that started in 2016; already a new weapon against journalists, in the form of supposed concerns about the possible abuses of foreign funding, is being readied.
We denounce these attacks in the strongest terms. We deplore the use of the office of the presidency to lie to the citizenry; we censure the phony narrative of treachery being supposedly leveled against the person of the president, that may be used at any time to justify draconian measures; we condemn all attempts to undermine the work of journalism.
The ridiculous “matrix” accusation saw print as the Consortium was holding its Second Conference on Democracy and Disinformation. This newest big lie was immediately self-evident to the assembly of media, academic, and civil society partners discussing the impact of disinformation on democratic decay. The attacks on Tordesillas, Varona, VERA Files, Rappler, and PCIJ by an administration hostile to the professional functions of truthful reportage in a democracy intends to straitjacket democracy: It means to pull down the fact-checkers of Facebook. It broadens the scale of the administration’s war against press freedom and freedom of expression. It replays old authoritarian techniques for the suppression of truth-telling.
That the lie is so transparent and the machinations so inept insults all Filipinos. The barefaced nature of the falsehood is obvious. But what is even more exposed than all that is the increasing momentum by which impunity is wielded by a government at war with its own people.
In calling out the administration for yet another deliberate release of disinformation, the members and partners of the Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation appeal to both the guarantees of freedom of expression and press freedom found in the Constitution, and to the natural desire of free peoples everywhere to defend their freedom, beginning with their freedom to tell the truth.
As the former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales reminded our conference: “Our democracy is sick and truth-telling is the only antidote.’
(Retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and retired Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales was one of the main speakers at the 2nd Democracy and Disinformation Conference. We are sharing with you her speech before the conference participants.)
(This is the keynote speech delivered via Skype on April 22, 2019 by Bishop Pablo Virgilio David on the occasion of the 2nd Democracy and Disinformation Conference. Bishop Ambo’s speech was also preceded by a short interview with Patricia Evangelista.)
Truth in the Age of Disinformation Bishop Ambo David
Some time ago, I saw a film about professional political strategists who do consultancy work for politicians, especially those who are still aspiring for public office. Their work consists basically in packaging their candidate’s campaign in such a way that the public opinion, which they gauge through surveys, is influenced and swayed favorably—meaning, in favor of their candidate.
The opening scene is an interview with the character Jane Bondine (played by Sandra Bullock), being considered for a job. First question is, “Did you ever work for politicians you did not believe in?” (Her answer: “Sure, I could convince myself many things if the price is right.) Second question: “How important is honesty?” (Answer: “Oh, truth is relative in politics. The truth is what I tell the electorate the truth is.”)
We are very honored to have two distinguished personalities as our main speakers for the 2nd Democracy and Disinformation Conference.
Our keynote speaker, who will talk about Truth in the Age of Disinformation, is Bishop Pablo Virgilio David.
Bishop David (more fondly called Bishop Ambo) was ordained priest in 1983. He took his AB Pre-Divinity at the Ateneo de Manila University and his MA in Theology from the Loyola School of Theology. He received his Doctorate in Sacred Theology in 1991 from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.
First published on BlogWatch on February 18, 2018.
The “Democracy and Disinformation,” Conference with 42 resource persons discussed ways to tackle fake news, other forms of disinformation, and how to fight back .For the first time. journalists, online media and bloggers collaborated to tackle why “fake news” and other forms of disinformation threaten our freedoms and ways on fighting back
Join us on April 22-23, 2019 for the 2nd Conference on Democracy and Disinformation at the UP Bonifacio Global City auditorium. The conference is hosted by the Department of Journalism, UP College of Mass Communication. Our theme is “Disinformation and Democratic Decay: Why deceptive information erodes democratic institutions, and how to fight forward”.
As we excitedly prepare for the 2nd Conference on Democracy and Disinformation, here is a chance to look back at the sessions from last year’s first Democracy and Disinformation Conference (February 12-13, 2018).