Bulatlatan Q&A | Citizens’ role in truth-telling

In this week’s Bulatlatan, Advocacy and publication officer of Ramento Project for Rights Defenders, Vaughn Geuseppe Alviar discusses citizen’s role on truth-telling.

HOSTED BY REIN TARINAY
EDITED BY AARON MACARAEG
Bulatlat.com

Rein Tarinay (RT): Mapagpalayang araw sa ating lahat! Welcome sa panibagong episode ng Bulatlatan. Bulatlatan is Bulatlat’s weekly podcast on pressing issues in the Philippines.

Noong nakaraang linggo ay lalo pa nating kinilala ang spokesperson ng Bahaghari na si Rey Salinas, kanyang adbokasiya at ang kwento sa likod ng laban ng Pride20.

If you missed last week’s episode you may visit Bulatlat’s Facebook, YouTube, AnchorFM and Spotify.

Ngayong araw tatalakayin naman natin ang tungkulin na ginagampanan ng mga kabataan sa paglalahad at pagsisiwalat ng katotohanan.

Sa panahon kung saan ang pamahalaan at ang mga opisyal mismo ang nagpapalaganp ng maling impormasyon, napakalaki ng tungkuling ginagampanan ng mga kabataan at ng taumbayan sa pagsisiwalat ng katotohanan.

Makakasama natin sa ating diskusyon si Vaughn Geuseppe Alviar.

Alviar is a BA Communication graduate from UP Baguio, an advocacy and publication officer, Ramento Project for Rights Defenders, Contributing writer, for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, National Deputy Secretary for Youth of Iglesia Filipina Independiente, he is also the former chair of Kalipunan ng Kristiyanong Kabataan sa Pilipinas

Kumustahin natin ang ating panauhin. Kumusta ka, Koko?

Koko Alviar (KA): Magandang araw, magandang buhay. Alam kong mahirap na ‘yong mga gano’ng greetings pero okay naman lumalaban tayo. It’s our 4th month being locked down dito sa probinsya pero sa awa ng Diyos tayo ay ligtas naman.

RT: Tama. Tayo ay lumalaban pa rin sa kabila ng ating mga kinahaharap ngayon. Before we start, to spice up our discussion ano, Koko and I will play a game called, Ay na-share: Oo o hindi. Ang mechanics ng game na ito ay mag-pa-flash tayo ng mga screenshots sa ating screen ng mga reports and sasabihin ni Koko kung ise-share niya ba ito o hindi sa social media. So ang ating unang ipapalabas ay.. Koko, sinasabi daw na ang saging ay nakakapagpagaling ng COVID.

KA: Hindi ko ‘yan is-share. Ire-report ko ‘yan.

RT: Anong category under ‘yan?

KA: It’s false information. Walang scientific basis ‘yang mga bagay na ‘yan so dapat..that shouldn’t even get the light of day.

RT: Paano kung tita mo ‘yong nag-share niyan? Alam naman natin na may mga tita and tito tayong mga mahilig mag-share ng mga ganyan?

KA: Ay, oo. In fact, karamihan nga sa mga susceptible sa pagse-share ng mga ganitong information ay mga older generations pero I’ll tell my tita na i-take down ‘yong post na ‘yon and then tell her din na i-confirm niya muna. Maghanap siya ng research bago siya mag-share ng mga ganon.

RT: And kaugnay nga nito, what are some of the craziest mis- or disinformation that you saw on Facebook and paano mo kino-callout ‘yong mga gano’n kunwari mga kamag-anak mo?

KA: Dito sa province, dito sa Sanchez Mira nagkaroon kami ng case recently ng COVID-19. So basically ito ‘yong first confirmed case namin dahil sa isang locally stranded individual na bumalik dito galing Cavite. May mga tao na nagsasabi na nakipag-inuman daw siya bago siya ma-ospital dito sa amin, sa tabi namin. Sinasabi na dapat daw i-lockdown ‘yong area which happened naman at sunugin daw ‘yong bahay nila. It’s based out of disinformation. A certain fear din na hindi nila alam kung ano ‘yong hina-hande nila. Sobrang ano lang.. sobrang backward pala ng tao if you aren’t careful about the things you share and alam mo naman tsismis ‘di ba and it really reminds us na napaka-damaging ng mga ganong instances kapag hindi naco-confirm ‘yong info. Ang daming tsismis. Disinformation talaga around that single case recently.

RT: At dahil diyan, dadako naman tayo sa una natin tatalakayin. How do you call out people? Kapag sa social media nakakakita ka ng pinsan mo, ng tito mo, ng tita mo na nagsshare ng maling impormasyon, eh alam naman natin mayroon ‘yong iba na mindset na, “I’m older than you, you have to respect me”

KA: First of all, we should put front and center ‘yong fact that the truth matters. Whether they be old, kahit mayor pa ‘yan, kahit presidente pa ‘yan if it’s not the truth it should be called out. It’s just a matter of siguro how you approach the person. For me, personally, ‘pag kamag-anak ko dine-DM ko na i-take down ‘yong information na ‘yon kasi hindi naman ‘yon totoo, stop sharing chain messages. Even my mom, ‘no. Sometimes, she shares information that is not verifiable, that isn’t true, mga tsismis, chain messages ganyan. And I tell her to stop sharing those things if walang basehan ‘yong mga information na ‘yon. It’s just, be vigilant and also value the truth most of all.

RT: Value the truth. Dadako naman tayo sa isa pa nating punto. Napakahalaga ng gampanin ng taumbayan at ng mga kabataan in particular sa pagsisiwalat ng katotohanan lalo’t napaka-rampant ng misinformation at disinformation sa ating bansa dagdag pa ang kinakaharap nating pandemya ngayon. At isa sa mga kakampi natin sa pagsisiwalat ng katotohanan ay siyempre ang media, what are your thoughts naman on recent attacks against media groups in the country? Kasama rito ang kaso nina Maria Ressa and Reynaldo Santors Jr. ng Rappler, ABS-CBN franchise renewal denial, ‘wag din nating kalimutan ang kaso ng nawawalang journalist na kamakailan lamang ay inabduct sa Cebu at ang pag-deny sa dismissal ng kaso ng community journalist na Frenchie Mae Cumpio: What are your thoughts? Paano ito nakakaapekto sa truth-telling?

KA: Ako naniniwala ako that any attack on any media outfit is an attack on all of the press. Maraming mga taong nagsasabi na ay hindi naman ‘yan issue ng press freedom kasi ‘pag wala naman ang ABS-CBN o ‘pag wala naman ang Rappler may choice pa naman daw. Pero tama rin ‘yong sinasabi ng Rappler ano that it’s really the chilling effect that it causes on all of the journalists and all truth-tellers, people who document, people who do paralegal work, lahat ng mga nagco-cover ng mga issues na ito nagkakaroon ng takot . For me, it is important that we..Sabi nga ni Maria Ressa, “hold the line” keep being brave, keep telling the truth and always focus nga do’n sa value nga ng katotohanan kasi if we do not call out evil and falsehood for what it is, talagang mawawalan tayo ng mga tao na poprotekta dito sa katotohanan na ito. We have to be brave talaga.

RT: Mula sa mga ibinahagi mo Koko, sa tingin mo how will the intensifying media repression affect the people’s right to know?

KA: Siyempre makikita mo na lang ano doon sa kaso ng shutdown ng ABS-CBN, ang daming mga households lalo na sa mga countryside na wala nang mapagkunan ng information kasi naka TV plus sila o kaya naka cable TV that relies on ABS-CBN kasi nga many remote communities wala nang ibang ma-transmit ‘yong mga television kundi ‘yong ABS-CBN. ‘Yong right to know nila is affected directly because they have no means of knowing. Many people have no means of knowing, some people have one less reliable source to know and basically maraming information na you get to miss only because these outlets are being attacked and are being shut down.

RT: And sa tingin mo Koko, what is the role of the public in the business of truth-telling? How can the public keep journalists on their toes? Or even government officials who are lying through their teeth?

KA: The first thing that we have to realize is that press freedom and documenting, these are public things. Ito ay mga bagay na p’wede nating magawa bilang mga citizen. Ang pag-document ng events, ang pag-chronicle sa mga ito ay maaaring gawin ng mga citizen. Therefore, kung p’wede sa atin manggaling ‘yong information from the ground..’yong tinatawag natin na citizen journalism or community-based journalism ay dapat mangyari lalong lalo na sa mga communities na hindi talaga naco-cover masyado, remote communities, communities of indigenous people, muted voices like women and LGBT. We have to make sure that they are covered through people who are actively chronicling their stories and connecting their contents sa mga media platforms na natitira pa for example I know Bulatlat is one of those groups na talagang tumatanggap ng mga data from the ground data from real people..Rappler sometimes citizen journalists land content there. Dati ‘yong TV Patrol. Even 24 Oras..lahat ng mga platforms naman na ito, if you are able to back up your information, they will have space for you, e. Lalong lalo na all of them maintain websites and basically the internet is an unlimited space.

RT: Dako naman tayo sa isa pa nating punto, Koko, how can the people, most especially the youth, show their support to the media amid intensifying media repression?

KA: Mayroon tayong tinatawag na “pasikatin” It’s callout culture. It’s a double-edged sword. Sometimes it’s bad but many times it’s a good thing din ano like sa movements like #HijaAko were people have been calling out older generations for being insensitive against sexual harassment on young people. So..we have a platform that we are masters of kumbaga. Marunong tayong magpa-viral ng bagay bagay , marunong tayong mag-anggulo in such a way that it catches fire online so gamitin natin ito for social good. Mag call out tayo ng mga tao who are doing bad things and follow through din. Pasikatin natin with consistent efforts on social media and of course pati na rin sa mga media platforms if we can reach out to them. So let’s make noise and make that noise consistent.

RT: Be consistent. Isa pa na pinakamahalaga din ay ang malaman natin bakit mahalaga maging mapanuri bilang mambabasa/tagapakinig? Ako ang pwedeng gawin?

KA: So basically, sa truth-telling ang pinaka-unang masa-suggest ko is really look for fake news and report them. Purge them. Make sure that they are called out..these people who are sharing them kasi basically fake news is one propaganda machine, e. Starve trolls when you can. Comment on them and report them para mawala sila sa social media space. Kasi some people are very susceptible to them.. Make people more media literate kasi ABS-CBN’s, Rappler’s and Bulatlat’s coverage of the news sometimes sinasabing fake news pero it’s a just predisposition or a play with perspective or angling so let ‘s make sure na people know what fake news is and what bias is and where bias serves social good more than anything. And also, matuto siguro tayo na mag-cross reference. News sources like Bulatlat have information na madalas hindi nakikita sa ibang media outlets because these are media who are fed by convenient sources alam mo na ‘yon eh na ito ay information na galing sa Armed Forces of the Philippines o galing sa official data na bias din ng Philippine National Police at sometimes we forget about victims, real happenings on the ground and we have to make sure na naco-cross reference natin lahat ng sites para we arrive at a conclusion na talagang informed hindi ‘yong galing lang sa iisang source at minsan ‘yong isang source na ‘yon ay alam nating problematiko.

RT: At bago naman tayo sa isa pa nating question, magfa-flash ulit tayo ng report. So Koko, sinabi ni DOH secretary Duque na na-flatten na ang curve. Ano’ng masasabi mo? Ishe-share mo ba o hindi?

KA: Ishe-share ko with comments. He’s playing with the words very very dangerously. It’s not exactly..’yong sinasabi ko nga dati pa ano when he first claimed that the curve was flattened and that we were winning..he was saying na na-flatten natin pero ang sinasabi ko naman is yes na-flatten natin at the top. Thousands of cases daily ibig sabihin flat siya pero sa taas ‘di ba so we’re not really solving the problem here..we’re not containing the cases. It’s a consistent reportage of confirmed cases na hindi bumababa. Tapos siyempre isa-suggest ko rin ‘yong mga bagay na matagal na nating ‘pinaglalaban ‘no like more aggressive contact tracing, siguruhin din na covered ‘yong humanitarian needs ng marami sa ating mga kababayan who are affected, etc. sobrang dami nito and I can go on for days about this pero yes I will share it and I will comment with so much anger to it.

RT: And yes mula dito sa iyong binanggit, ano ang implikasyon kapag ‘yong mga public official natin ang nagbabahagi ng mga ganitong statements, mga balita. Ano ‘yong implikasyon nito sa publiko?

KA: So far, from what I’ve been seeing sa trends. Some people are just so preoccupied in preserving ‘yong powers ng mga public officials na ito that they would bend this news for the good of that person in power. Pero sa tingin ko , the truth again has to be told without far fetched conclusions like that. If we are losing the battle, we have to accept that we are losing kasi nga ‘di ba the first crucial step to solving a problem is acknowledging that there is a problem and whenever they twist the perspective and say na “ah nananalo tayo nafa-flatten ‘yong curve, we’ve been doing so well, we are a model, etc.” we’re not really solving the problem, we’re not acknowledging the problem—the first step and in the long run lalong lalo na sa kaso ng COVID-19 where time is everything, we will lose..we will lose. We’re already in the longest lockdown in the whole world and we’re still losing. Kung ako sa kanila sisimulan ko nang magsabi ng katotohanan without ‘yong kanilang masyadong far fetched bias that does no good para sa ating mga mamamayan and only confuses some of us.

RT: Tama at napakahalaga nga ng tungkulin din na ginagampanan ng gobyerno lalo’t ngayong may pandemya na kinahaharap with the DOH na naglalabas ng pabago-bagong pag-presenta ng data ng COVID tally. At bago naman tayo dumako sa ating pagtatapos. Gusto kitang hingan ng mensahe para sa mga kabataan sa panahon kung kailan napaka-rampant ng misinformation at disinformation?

KA: Ang mensahe ko sa mga kabataan ano na sobrang confused ngayon sa basa ko. Sa kung ano na ba talaga ang katotohanan at kung ano ang hindi..the first thing is look for people who are directly affected sa kaso ng ABS-CBN. Sige alam ko magtatalo tayo tungkol sa issue ng press freedom , etc. etc. And to me, it is really an issue of press freedom pero let’s look for issues pa that add on to that such as ‘yong issue ng labor 11,000 workers na walang ibang mapupuntahan. I mean, Bulatlat and other media outlets will not have 11,000 slots waiting for all these people. These 11,000 jobs don’t have anywhere to go and that is the issue that will unite us so let’s look for these people, these 11,000 workers and listen to them..let’s look for the victims of bombings in Lumad commnities, let’s look for victims ng LGBT oppression, let’s look for people who are commonly muted or not reached tapos sa kanila tayo mag-simulang maghanap ng information..kung maaari nating ma-amplify ‘yong information na ‘yon by chronicling these, writing about these kahit sa social media platforms natin and connecting to media outlets, may mga op-ed ‘no like sa Philippine Daily Inquirer mayroong Young Blood ‘yan. These media outlets crowdsource information from us. Let’s give them information that comes from real victims and pinakahuli siguro sa lahat ay ‘wag tayong matakot. In the case of ABS-CBN, I ‘ve e-mailed our congress person, the representative of our congressional district dito sa Cagayan province to tell her na bakit ka naman bumoto ng ganon sa anti-terror law and sa ABS_CBN franchise? Alam mo ba na karamihan sa aming mga mamamayan sa Sanchez Mira at congressional district 2 ay mga walang ibang mapagkunan ng information kundi ang ABS-CBN, alam mo ba na marami sa amin have actually sentimentally been with ABS-CBN since matuto kaming magkaroon ng consciousness ng kung saang network ba kami makikinig. So basically, importante that we continue to be brave, call out powers who we think have maligned us and continue to be brave in covering. Again central na central ang truth and if the truth is people are suffering and people are misrepresented dahil sa mga boto na ito, sa information na ito, sa walang katotohanang bagay na pine-peddle ng maraming tao. Kailangan tayong maging brave and vigilant against them kasi if we are not brave, there’s no other way, e. If we are not brave, if we keep silent on these issues, wala nang lalaban. Wala nang magsasabi na mali sila..wala nang magsasabi na dapat ito ‘yong pakinggan natin..wala na tayong advocate na talagang magre-represent sa kung ano ang nangyayari sa atin sa grassroots..Importante talaga ‘yon, e. Kung ano ‘yong sinabi ko sa unahan, ay siya ring sasabihin ko sa dulo. Let’s value the truth. Otherwise, If we just let it be hindi na tayo democratic country at all..we’re a country of puppets..country of blind people..we’re a country of silent people and the people should be sovereign..the people should not keep quiet and should rise up and represent themselves when they are not represented anymore by their own representatives in government.

RT: Maraming salamat.

KA: Ako po ay nagtatrabaho ngayon sa Ramento Project for Rights Defenders isang faith-based non-government organization.

RT: Maraming salamat sa isang npakagandang diskusyon, Koko! Ika nga, value the truth. Wag matakot. Continue to be brave. Yan ang mensahe mula kay Koko para sa ating mga kabataan at kapwa mamamayan ng Pilipinas. Malaki ang ginagampanan nating tungkulin para i-hold accountable ang ating gobyerno at napakahalaga na lagi tayong pumanig sa katotohanan. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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