CALL FOR PROBE | Senator urges investigation into disinformation on West Philippine Sea

(NEWS 5) (January 24, 2024) – Sen. Jinggoy Estrada sought an investigation into the alleged disinformation campaign on the West Philippine Sea to hold accountable those involved in such illicit activities that create an “adverse impact” on the country.

Estrada, who heads the committee on national defense and security, said he decided to file Senate Resolution No. 910 to determine the extent of this disinformation campaign. He added that the Senate panel on public information and mass media was asked to lead the legislative investigation.

“Mahalagang matukoy at masuri ang lawak ng makinarya sa likod ng disinformation campaign. Makakatulong ito sa pagbuo ng patakaran at paraan para bigyang-solusyon ang usaping ito, buwagin ang network ng mga nagpapakalat ng maling balita, at masupil ang masamang epekto nito,” said Estrada.

According to Estrada, the task of looking into these false claims should not fall solely onto the Department of National Defense because the government must also be involved in ensuring the spread of accurate information for the public.

“Nangangailangan ng matibay na diskarte ng gobyerno at pakikilahok at edukasyon ng mamamayan para masiguro ang epektibong hakbang na gagawin natin,” said Estrada. “Kailangan ng agaran at komprehensibong tugon mula sa gobyerno dahil maaaring mag-udyok ito ng hindi makabayang saloobin.”

Over the past year, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) have been active in exposing the real incidents in the country’s sovereign waters amid the continued bullying done by China.

PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea commodore Jay Tarriela said they intend to carry on with this “assertive transparency” if Beijing will continue its aggressive activities. Still, he expressed hope that China will stay true to its promise in improving its communication with the Philippines on maritime issues.

“Our continuous assertive transparency will prove to the world whether China truly honors their words or it remained disconnected with their actions,” said Tarriela.

China has persistently insisted on its maritime claims over almost the entire South China Sea through its ten-dash line, which was already nullified by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016. It has repeatedly ignored the diplomatic challenge lodged by the Philippines in the face of its aggressive tactics.

As the country’s efforts in addressing the maritime row do not seem effective, President Bongbong Marcos Jr. highlighted the need for a “paradigm shift” to ensure progress for the greater benefit of the country.

Marcos is known for his “friend-to-all approach” in foreign policy. His approach was different to that of his predecessor, former president Rodrigo Duterte, who pivoted his foreign policy to China.

“We have to do something that we have not done before. We have to come up with a new concept, a new principle, a new idea so that we move, as I say, we move the needle the other way,” said Marcos last month. “That paradigm shift is something that we have to formulate.”