The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expresses its support for the proposed digital media literacy campaign discussed by the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) during the “CyberSafe Against Fake News: Being Smart, Being Safe and Staying Ahead! Ensuring Women and Girls a Safe Online Experience” event in New York City, held alongside the 67th Session of the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women on 10 March 2023.
According to PCO, the campaign will undertake a context-based and factual grassroots approach in equipping women, girls, and members of vulnerable sectors with knowledge and skills to discern truth in materials they consume in social media and other online platforms. The said media and information literacy (MIL) initiative will also be in partnership with the private sector and broadcast industry stakeholders to develop mechanisms in fighting rampant misinformation and disinformation in the country.
Pursuant to our mandate as independent watchdog, monitor, advocate, and educator of the government with respect to human rights, CHR recognises the harms to a range of human rights that false and misleading information causes. In the same breath, the Commission equally stresses the need to tackle these issues with a human rights-based approach. This entails the safeguarding of Filipinos’ fundamental freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression, right to participation, and right to information.
To this end, CHR strongly encourages a direct consultation with the most marginalised sectors and human rights advocates prior to the implementation of the MIL campaign. It is imperative that, in protecting our collective right to information, transparency and accountability must be ensured in governance. A whole-of-society approach—open to the ideas of academic institutions, civil society organizations, and other authoritative bodies in verifying online data, information, news, and narratives—is not only imperative, but reflective of a strong and vibrant democracy.
CHR places emphasis on the pursuit for truth as an essential component of freedom and justice. Access to accurate and reliable information likewise allows individuals to make informed decisions that allow them to participate effectively in democratic processes.
As such, we continue to be open and willing to work with the government and other stakeholders in advancing Filipinos’ MIL. With literacy and critical thinking cultivated among citizens, all can engage in online activities safely, responsibly, and ethically, thereby fostering a culture where human rights and dignity are respected and enjoyed by all. ###