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Malacañang does not expressly require accredited bloggers to avoid profanity or fake news, presumes they will behave



For the sake of respecting bloggers’ freedom of expression, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) removed the requirement over cursing or sharing fake news from its interim social media policy.

“We had to delete the requirement, limitation regarding the use of profanity because it might encroach on their freedom of speech,” said PCOO Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan on August 10 in a Malacañang press briefing.

As to how his office will pick bloggers who can produce quality content, Ablan said his office “presumes” the chosen bloggers will behave.

“The presumption is those who will be accredited are law-abiding Filipino citizens who will not use profanity in their articles, who will not use fake news,” he said.

With this presumption, the need to keep bloggers from cursing or spreading misinformation does not have to be expressly written in the social media policy.

“There’s no need to expressly state that you’re not supposed to use profanity in any of your articles,” Ablan added.

However, there were issues before involving pro-Duterte bloggers, such as PCOOA Asec. Mocha Uson, who was suspended from her radio program for cursing Vice President Leni Robredo and calling her a ‘liar,’  ‘fake news,’ ‘stupid,’ and ‘idiot.’

Blogger Rey Joseph Nieto, also known as “Thinking Pinoy,” once cursed and showed his middle finger at the Malacañang Press Corps in a video.

Image from: Rappler

Given Uson’s post as an Assistant Secretary for Social Media, it is her responsibility to accredit bloggers and come up with policies.


In a Rappler report, it was noted that the draft social media policy contained rules preventing accredited bloggers from using foul language. The topic was discussed during a forum that aimed to gather inputs from different sectors, some of whom wanted the bloggers to follow a code of conduct. Others wanted the PCOO to stop social media personalities from harassing and making online threats. But given the recent change in the policy, it seems that PCOO gave in to the bloggers.

“In the initial draft, we put a limitation, but when we did, including [the provision on] profanity, we were in a heated debate regarding freedom of speech so the content is free as long as it’s their own opinion,” Ablan said.

The PCOO also changed the requirements to accommodate more bloggers, such as the lower minimum number of followers and the output they would produce after covering the President.

Ablan said the PCOO initially had more stringent requirements, but gave in to Uson’s demand of a more “populist” and “open” social media policy.

“We tried to abide by the United Nations mininum standards but with discussions with Assistant Secretary Uson and her staff, they opted for a more populist, open accreditiaton process,” said Ablan.

He added that by requiring only at least 5,000 followers, more provincial bloggers can be accommodated by the accreditation policy. They also changed the initial requirement of “daily” original content to “regular” original content.

“Some objected to that because blogging is not their first job. They have day jobs and they do blogging regularly but they said, ‘We can’t do original content everyday. What if we do content 3 times a week? With your very high standard, we won’t get accredited,'” said Ablan.

Ablan said the social media policy will run for six months, serving as its “probationary” period.

He added that despite not having stricter regulations, Ablan said he can only hope that accredited bloggers will “behave properly.”

“Hopefully, once they get accredited, they realize the importance of the accreditation they receive and they behave properly,” he said.

In February, bloggers seeking accreditation from the Palace insisted that their use of profanity not be regulated because that is how they are able to obtain the kind of reach that they have.

“If traditional media is the very proper East Coast, we’re the Wild West where [the] reason why we have such a wild reach is precisely because we are a little freer in our speech,” lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles said, defending the bloggers.

She said that bloggers “precisely have their reach because we don’t observe the right conduct.”

Thinking Pinoy also questioned the PCOO’s original requirement on how the office would be able to determine whether the blogger’s language was offensive or not.

“Anong basehan para maging offensive, inflammatory, or provocative ang isang lenggwahe? Dahil po para sa aming mga karaniwang tao lang, maraming mga salita sa amin ay hindi offensive, inflammatory, or provocative pero para sa balat sibuyas ay offensive, inflammatory, at provocative. So ang tanong po, sino po ang magde-decide kung ano ang #disente?” TP asked in his video message.

Netizens react

After news erupted about the social media policy in accrediting bloggers, netizens reacted to their requirements.

The British Fashion Council has higher standards than the PCOO.

More Mochas then?

“What a joke.”

Will this legitimize fake news?

One Twitter user computed how many more followers she needs to reach PCOO’s minimum requirement.

Another one gave this analogy: “Giving social media people media accreditation is like giving out drivers licenses to people who can’t drive.”

Sources: ( , )


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Fake news sites to be aware of this 2018



With the widespread practice of misinformation using made-up stories and maliciously edited photos, Senate hearings have been conducted to determine whether new laws are needed to stop the spread of fake news. But you can contribute to the prevention of misinformation in your own way by not patronizing the content of the fake news sites that are causing confusion and baseless hate in the country.

In 2017, MemeBuster has published two lists containing websites that have posted fake stories.

The following are sites that MemeBuster has encountered while we are pursuing our cause of fighting fake news.

We have categorized the sites into active and inactive ones, seeing as how many fake news sites tend to be unavailable after some time. As of February 15, 2018, these are the active and inactive sources of fake news that we have encountered. We will continue to update this list as we bust more false stories.

Active Sites

1. has been an active source of fake stories that MemeBuster has debunked over and over again. It is also quite known for its ever changing About Us page, which now says that the site started out publishing fake stories for some La Sallian students’ thesis, but that it has stopped in May 2017 to focus on serious topics and general information. But La Salle Dasmarinas disowned the said research. even lied when they said they stopped posting fake news by May 2017. Even as late as December 2017, we still caught them publishing fake stories, among which are about Sanofi Pasteur research and development department revealing that they used embalming chemicals for Dengvaxia, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV hiring Arturo Lascañas and Edgar Matobato as his personal bodyguards, former President Benigno Aquino saying he’s willing to return money he got from the Dengvaxia deal, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promising visa-free entry to Filipino caregivers, and more.

This fake news site was also in our first list of fake news sites that we published in October 2016.

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Duterte raises bounty for killing communists to P25K



President Rodrigo Duterte announced that he is increasing the bounty he is offering for anyone who can kill communist rebels, saying it will be cheaper compared to waging a counterinsurgency campaign. The offer is now up from P20,000 to P25,000.

Duterte made the announcement at the oath-taking of newly-appointed officials in Malacañang. The president also reiterated that his controversial war on drugs will stay despite criticisms over the thousands of deaths and a preliminary examination by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the possibility of committing a crime against humanity.

Reckoning that the campaign against communists would last for at least four years, Duterte has made a counteroffer.

“If you’re a CAFGU (Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit) or anybody here, you kill one NPA (New People’s Army member) and I will pay you P25,000. Kwenta-kwenta ko, mas makamura ako. Bilhin ko na lang itong mga yawa na ito (I calculated and realized it will save money. I might as well buy the devils),” he said.

He also stressed that he has nothing to fear as he has the Philippine Navy, Air Force, Army, and CAFGU.


In a recent speech to more than 200 rebels, Duterte also made a remark that soldiers can shoot female rebels “in their vaginas”. This comment did not sit well with women’s group Gabriela.

The president also reiterated his resolve to face the ICC and be put before a firing squad if he is found guilty of crimes against humanity to emulate Jose Rizal.

“Don’t worry about me, I can face the ICC. If they want to indict me, fine! I would love to experience what Rizal has experienced,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines denounced Duterte’s reward offer to Lumads for every killed communist rebel saying it promotes a culture of violence in the country.

Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick Pabllo said that the statements promote a culture that normalizes violence and attacks the sanctity of life. He also urged the president to promote respect of the law instead of making such statements.

Sources: ( )


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How to spot fake news



How many times have you fallen for fake stories or seen friends and colleagues get victimized by misinformation? Two Senate hearings have been dedicated to discussing remedies to fight fake news in the country. But you don’t have to wait for any new laws to be created to contribute to the fight. You can do your part by identifying fake news and making sure that everyone who is willing to listen (or read) will know that a certain story is not factual at all.
Here are some eight pointers on how to distinguish fake news:

Does the headline sound too good to be true? Don’t take everything you read online to be true.

Netizens were duped by this obviously fake story with a headline “NASA hailed Duterte as the best president in the solar system.”

Check the URL. Some sites simply imitate the URLs of established news sources.

Some fake news and satirical sites are good at mimicking the URLs of reputable news sites simply by adding “,” “,” “tv-,” and others. Some also replace the letters in the URLs with numbers to trick people, such as or

Make sure the headline and/or image used matches the content.

Fake story makers take advantage of their readers’ tendencies to read only up to the headline or get their attention using some controversial photo that is actually not relevant to the content. The government-run news agency Philippine News Agency was slammed once for using a Vietnam war photo for a report about the Marawi siege.

Verify information by comparing information from competing sources.

Give yourself some peace of mind by ensuring that you check a story’s claims with different sources.

Check out fact-checking sites like and

Our website was founded amid the rise of memes that were deliberately made to spread disinformation during the 2016 elections,

with one of the more serious falsehoods being the meme that contained an invented quote from Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong endorsing then Philippine presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte. We also busted that story about the documents that spread online accusing former President Benigno Aquino III and other top government officials during his time of depositing gold in Thailand.

Vera Files is known more for fact-checking President Duterte’s claims when he makes speeches, such as his flip-flopping claims on his wealth, and the statements of other government officials.

Track down quotes and sources to see if everything in the story matches.

Many fake news writers have become quite good at masking the lies by mixing it with some facts. For instance, they would take a quote from a certain person and modify it. If you won’t check and triple check it, you’d really think that quote was accurate. A good example of that would be how a fake news site changed up current CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles’ statement, attributed it to former CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas, and made it seem as though Villegas was telling the government to leave the NPA alone.

Watch out for “filter bubbles” that show only items based on personalized searches and be more conscious in engaging in diverse content.

Website algorithm may guess what you would like to see based on your search history and online behavior, which may lead to you seeing only information that agree with your beliefs and opinions. To avoid this, you have to ensure that you have access to diverse news from well-established sources.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions.

This is where the need to verify things often start. A world of information is at your fingertip. Just type a few words in the search engine bar, apply the tips mentioned above, and you’ll be on your merry way to discovering whether the story you are reading is true or not.


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