Roque ready to quit if anti-fake news bill vs gov't employees passed
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday he is ready to quit from his post if a bill seeking to penalize government employees who publish or disseminate fake news is passed in Congress.
In a press briefing in Kalinga province, Roque said he is ready to question its constitutionality before the Supreme Court.
"I promise that if one such law is enacted by Congress, I will resign from my post and I will sue before the Supreme Court to challenge its constitutionality," he said.
Senator Grace Poe has recently filed Senate Bill 1680 seeking to amend Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as the "Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees."
Poe said it is logical and necessary that government officials, particularly those charged with the duty or mandate to disseminate information in their respective offices, agencies or departments, "must be subjected to higher standards of proper conduct particularly in their usage of Social Media and other platforms of information dissemination."
She said the proposed measure aims to hold public officials to "higher standards" in the advent of the unavoidable continuous rise of the influence and internet preparation brought about by social media.
Roque said Malacanang has never tolerated fake news.
He said Poe's bill, if it becomes a law, would violate the constitutional provisions on freedom of expression and freedom of speech.
He also said there was no reason to "single out" government officials.
Roque noted there could be a point the government employees and the private journalists are "equally guilty of publishing false news."
Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public information and mass media, filed the bill following the series of hearings that her committee conducted on fake news.
In one of the hearings, she even wondered if the Facebook blog of Presidential Communications Operations Assistant Secretary Margaux "Mocha" Uson could be shut down for allegedly disseminating false information.
According to PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar, Uson's Facebook blog, which has 5 million followers, was not sanctioned by his office as it is her personal blog. Celerina Monte/DMS