Padilla urges PCO to bolster info campaign on West PH Sea issue
MANILA, Philippines — To counter the “fake news” and propaganda surrounding the subject, Senator Robinhood Padilla urged the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) to bolster its information campaign on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue.
In Senate Resolution 864 filed on Monday, Padilla urged the PCO to “communicate to the public in an understandable way” the pertinent treaties and laws supporting the Philippines’s lawful actions in the WPS.
Padilla’s resolution calls for the PCO to communicate to the public various treaties and documents like the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the 2016 Arbitral Ruling, the Mutual Defense Treaty of the Philippines and the United States, and the proposed Reciprocal Access Agreement between the Philippines and Japan.
“As the nation’s security landscape continues to evolve, it is incumbent upon the PCO to provide clear, up-to-date and accurate information on matters of public concern relating to the security challenges confronting our country,” Padilla, who chairs the Senate committee on public Information and mass media, said in his resolution.
“Coinciding with the seriousness of this issue is the risk of spreading propaganda, misinformation, and fake news with the advent of social media, which can greatly impact our pursuit of good governance and ultimately undermine democracy,” Padilla added.
Padilla also recognized the caveat that “matters that may have repercussions or may compromise the nation’s defense and security are naturally excluded from any public information and awareness campaign.”
The Philippines currently occupies nine maritime features, collectively known as Kalayaan Island Group, around the WPS area.
Despite an international tribunal ruling effectively dismissing its claims, China asserts sovereignty in almost the entire South China Sea, including the WPS, causing tension between Manila and Beijing.
The BRP Sierra Madre became the flashpoint of the tensions between the two countries as Philippine vessels conducting regular resupply missions for the commissioned World War II-era ship were harassed by China’s vessels.
This year alone, China used military-grade lasers in February and a water cannon last August and only this month against Philippine vessels.