Building a Democratic Coalition Against Disinformation: The Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD), a network of liberal and democratic political parties in Asia, in cooperation with the Liberal Party (LP) of the Philippines and the Center for Liberalism and Democracy (CLD), with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF), held its 14th General Assembly focus on the theme “Building a Democratic Coalition Against Disinformation” last November 12 at the Iloilo Convention Center.
Former Senator Franklin M. Drilon and Former Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio provided a welcome remark and a keynote speech, respectively. Moreover, on the second part of the event, Former Senator Francis Pangilinan opened the forum and Senator Risa Hontiveros delivered a keynote speech.
In Drilon’s keynote speech, he highlighted factors, as well as examples, on how disinformation could impact the sociopolitical ecosystem of a nation.
“Given the wide-ranging scope of the problem, the possible solutions should also mobilize all stakeholders – the international community, government institutions, political parties, civil society organizations, the media, tech and social media companies, educational institutions, among others,” Drilon begins.
“We recognize that democratic forces from all sectors must come together to learn from each other and formulate concrete and effective solutions to the issue of disinformation. If the autocrats and populists can unite and support each other, we too can build and sustain coalitions that defend democracy and our fundamental freedoms. The call of our times is clear. We are not only fighting against disinformation. We are fighting to preserve our democratic way of life – our freedoms, our rights, our dignity as human beings. My wish is that this democratic gathering in Iloilo can provide us with the necessary knowledge, skills and strategies to win this fight for democracy,” he concludes.
The event was also livestreamed on the Facebook page of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats. Below are excerpts from the narrative provided by the organizers of the event.
Battling Disinformation and Historical Distortion through Education In 2019, Cristina Cristobal, a history teacher in Philippine Science High School, made a distinction between “historical revisionism” and “historical distortion”. For her, historical revisionism is the reinterpretation of a historical account or narrative based on new facts or evidence.
A historical distortion, on the other hand, is the changing of established history to suit a personal agenda. The latter involves lies and disinformation to change history. To counter historical distortion and disinformation, memory laws such as those adopted in Germany criminalizing Holocaust denial, or Finland’s incorporation of digital literacy and critical thinking in the national curriculum have been proven effective in the past.
“Democratic Defense Against Disinformation: Sustaining Efforts After the 2022 Elections” Hall D, Iloilo Convention Centre Philippines is said to be “patient zero” when it comes to disinformation. In the past 2019 midterm and 2022 presidential elections, multi-stakeholder initiatives and coalitions to analyze and address disinformation have been established. Some of the most noteworthy efforts include the following:
- Tsek.ph, a collaborative fact-checking project for the 2022 Philippines’ elections. It is an initiative of academe, media and civil society to counter disinformation and provide the public with verified information. Tsek.ph builds on its success as a pioneering collaborative project in the 2019 elections. In 2019, Tsek.ph was composed of three academic institutions and 11 media organizations. In 2022, initial members number 21 and it has become more diverse as it welcomed fact checkers from several civil society organizations and multi-sectoral organizations in its fight to counter disinformation.
- FactsFirstPH, a first-of-its-kind initiative that aims to debunk dubious claims online, make facts spread faster and farther than hate and lies, flag disinformation narratives and actors, and hold online perpetrators accountable. It is composed of over 120 media, coalitions, civil society groups, business organizations, and research and legal groups. It is supported by technology partners Meedan, Google News Initiative and Rappler.