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PH, Cambodia agree to fight ‘fake news’

/ 07:22 AM December 17, 2017

The Philippines and Cambodia have agreed to cooperate in improving their communication programs and battling fake news, which is a growing problem for many countries, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said on Saturday.

Andanar and Cambodia’s Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith on Friday signed a memorandum of cooperation to pave the way for their governments to work together in training their staff in broadcast, print and online media.

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The memorandum was signed in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where Andanar was interviewed by the government-owned Radyo Pilipinas.

Andanar said there would also be exchanges of news and information on politics, economy and culture and of radio and TV programs. The two countries, both members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, also would find ways to deal with communication problems, he added.

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“The two countries will also cooperate to face new challenges we’re facing like fake news,” Andanar said.

Fake news are spurious or false stories on such diverse subjects as politics, entertainment and economy that are spread on the internet or other media.

According to Andanar, the proliferation of false information is a problem in Cambodia and other countries in the region.

“That is the number one challenge in Cambodia—facing fake news, how they can beat fake news,” he said.

The Philippines and Cambodia would share their practices in addressing the problem, he said.

Malacañang, he said, could show Cambodians how it disseminates information and how it helps citizens avoid fake news.

He did not mention it, but Malacañang was no stranger to accusations of spreading incorrect information, though it had usually taken action when these were pointed out.

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Andanar, who heads the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), said there was no silver bullet to stop the spread of false information, especially on social media.

One way to counter the problem is to improve social media literacy and to conduct public awareness campaigns, he said. The PCOO could not do it alone, he added.

One of Andanar’s subalterns, Assistant Communications Secretary Mocha Uson, has often been charged with spreading false information on Facebook.

Recently, she was called out for sharing a post that misquoted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as saying that it was “not possible” for Canada to take back garbage that was earlier shipped to the Philippines. In fact, Trudeau had said it was “now theoretically possible” for Canada to take back the trash.

Andanar said Cambodia was “particular about freedom of expression and freedom of the press.”

He said the PCOO would share its programs on promoting freedom of information and its establishment of a task force on media security to keep tabs on the killings of media workers.

Cambodia has been criticized as one of the most repressive regimes in Southeast Asia. It has cracked down on independent media outlets perceived to be critical of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is expected to seek an extension of his 32-year rule in next year’s elections.

At the government’s request, the Cambodian Supreme Court dissolved the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party last month after the arrest of its leader and the Cambodian leader’s rival, Kem Sokha.

Hun Sen accused Kem Sokha and his party of a US-backed antigovernment plot, charges that the opposition leader and Washington have denied. —With a report from the wires

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TAGS: Cambodia, fake news, Khieu Kanharith, Martin Andanar, Philippines
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