Fake news - a
major threat to the work for promotion of rule of law and human
Asian Human Rights Commission
January 23, 2020
The world over a great
threat has emerged against civilization as a whole. This is the
power of fake news used with the technological assistance of a
highly sophisticated modern technological industry. A vast body of
daily reports of all types are spread through the internet and
These publications cannot
be held accountable for the truth or falsehood of what they publish.
There are so many ways of circumventing even a proper attribution of
a credible source for such information. All the legal principles
used earlier regarding print media cannot be used effectively
against the spread of false news items. Examples are the Laws of
deformation, fraud or misinformation leading to damage for
individuals or property. And this legal vacuum cannot be easily
overcome. The fake news makers are aware of these limitations with
regard to accountability. They can spread whatever they wish to
spread without accepting any responsibility for their acts.
What makes such fake news
so powerful is the fact that such news can be spread instantly to
vast audiences within a very short time, counted by minutes or
seconds. The very fact of publishing and distributing material on a
vast scale creates a kind of impression--if the news is so spread
there must be some truth behind whatever is being published. These
impressions are the stuff with which credibility is attained about
any sort of news. And now fake news uses this situation to their
Countering fake news is a
very difficult, arduous and time-consuming exercise. To erase the
impressions created by a single news item or a fake letter sent to a
number of persons can take years. Fake news writers professionalize
the creation of such fake news. Out of their own imagination they
make up a variety of stories looking at which is impossible to
dismiss altogether. Most people who get such news do not have the
time to look for verification. They may even dismiss such news items
at a conscious level. However such information does make
impressions. These impressions give rise to doubts which lead to
behavior and reactions which may affect other persons adversely or
There are different
tactics adapted by fake news writers, such as selecting words, that
may arouse a certain dislike or repugnance on just hearing them. For
example, a fake news writer may refer to a person as not
credit-worthy, with a bad reputation or having engaged in activities
which society may condemn. Or, perhaps, calling someone an
anti-Semite or a sexual abuser when there is no basis for these
accusations or others like embezzlement, fraud or similar
allegations. With that, goes adjectives, which create the feeling
that the person or the organization referred to, is quite bad. By
using such questionable words they can create mass impressions.
These impressions are in articles which of themselves do not have
any kind of real information or any provable actual information.
All over the world today
we are seeing this in terms of electoral politics, whether it be in
the United States of America or in Great Britain. This also includes
almost every other country where enormous amounts of false
accusations are lodged against popular political leaders. The main
idea in promulgating such fake news items is to create bad and wrong
impressions. As a result, at the polls, people may have doubts in
supporting such a person or cause.
In third world countries
this situation is even worse. A few persons who may have access to
mass media channels could create a virtual reality which has nothing
to do with the actual situation of a country. They effect this by
hiring persons with an ability to engage in this kind of manufacture
and distribution of particular fake news stories.
The worst aspect is that
criminal justice institutions when manipulated by authoritarian
governments can develop its own fake news industry. Before a person
is arrested or exposed to some serious charges a huge campaign could
be developed. So, when the actual violation of the rights takes
place many people begin to have doubts as to whether these
allegations can, in fact, be true. Such doubts prevent immediate
reactions to what appears to be blatantly unjust and violative acts
of the basic rights of the individual. This lack of resistance can
also be a factor in discouraging persons who are more knowledgeable
about the situation. Their intention was to place the truth before
people in society as the fake news industry overtakes them and
creates false impressions at every turn.
Worse affected in this are
the people who express dissent. In the past the very fact of
representing dissent carried a certain moral prestige. Today, more
and more with the use of fake news, industrial dissent can be
discredited by attributing multiple motives to it. How do they do
it? They portray a person or organization as agents of people having
such agendas. They represent such dissent not as people who are
exposing a worthy cause. They are doing these things for their own
personal or political agendas.
This situation creates
enormous demoralization and discouragement among persons who want to
stand up for what they think is right and reasonable. Standing up to
what they think is wrong, morally wrong and unreasonable, is less
and less attractive. Any efforts in getting involved in genuine
protests against people raises more problems than could be imagined.
Both the fake news
industry and the criminal underground often have very close links.
When the fake news industry portrays some person or organization as
not credit-worthy or having anti-social or anti- patriotic agendas,
then the criminal gangs could be mobilized to attack such persons.
This is constantly taking place with many reports coming in weekly
of such attacks. Here the interested parties mobilize the criminal
gangs to do what they want. If any blame is placed it will be on the
criminal gangs rather than on individual persons who are the real
motivators of such attacks.
The direct victim of the
fake news industry is the Criminal Justice System as a whole. This
means the Police investigating systems, Attorney General’s
Department (Prosecutor’s office) and the Judiciary itself. The fake
news industry could even attack the Courts because they could hide
their identities. The Courts themselves, by their very profession,
are unable to engage in such activities as social media in order to
defend themselves. While cases are filed for wrong reasons by
interested parties, massive propaganda that percolates through the
fake news may create another kind of trial. Serious crimes committed
by accused persons thereby develops another kind of attack on the
criminal justice system which is the trial by publicity.
There are two ways that a
trial by publicity takes place. One is to portray a person or any
group as guilty of what they are being accused of, thereby making
them the target of social attacks. Then exert pressure on them. They
would rather seek to find a compromise or a sentence of mitigation
rather than to fight their cases in public. Public trials on
sensitive cases become more and more dangerous for the public.
The second way the fake
news industry affects criminal trials is by making or portraying the
complainant as not a credit-worthy person. Therefore, the whole
story about the violation is in fact made up. For example, if a
murder takes place, this sensational type of news spreads quickly.
Perhaps it was due to some personal affair than to a deliberate,
intentional killing of someone in particularly. But it could be that
someone happens to be a politically interested person, trying to
achieve his or her aims through murder. Or it may be a woman
subjected to rape or even gang rape. The fake news industry then
will begin to spread derogatory remarks about the complainant. In
such cases they make them appear to be persons of a bad character or
a person making up these stories for some other dubious purpose.
A further way by which the
fake news industry affects criminal trials is through various
pressures created through false news events in the investigation of
crimes. The investigators themselves get these investigations
accredited without any real grounds for doing so. It makes the whole
exercise of the investigation simply due to political purposes. And
for a particular crime, things such as the murder of a journalist or
an attack on some groups or persons or corruption are not motivated
by genuine reasons.
The result of all these
explorations is: the investigators themselves running an
investigation are otherwise punished. This is based on a massive
propaganda campaign which goes to discredit persons who are involved
Another section of people
who are seriously affected by the fake news industry are the human
rights defenders themselves. Human rights defenders are engaged in
numerous activities which include: defending the civil and political
rights of others, defending environmental rights, fighting against
corruption, defending the right of freedom of expression or assembly
and lastly the rights for education and health. All these persons
could be brought under severe attacks by the fake news spreading
that all these activities are motivated not for altruistic reasons
but for personal gain. In addition, there is corruption and other
things involved in these activities or these activities are purely
the propaganda work of interested powerful countries whose sole
ambition is to destabilize other countries. Therefore, nationalism
could be evoked against the human rights defenders who are often
brought into disrepute and doubts about their work. The fake news
even reaches the agencies funding support for these groups. They
provide completely false information about allegations such as
sexual abuse which has never happened or corruption or fraud or the
like for which there is not the slightest evidence. And quite
manipulatively these fake news makers use the languages or ethics
that are respected in the West. They are trying to show that the
ethical codes honored in the West have been violated by the groups
that they support.
The fake news industry is
not only widespread but it is also sophisticated and very subtle.
Therefore, in the years to come, protecting and promoting the work
towards the Rule of Law and human rights, will certainly be attacked
manifold through these fake news channels and individuals. So we see
that what is needed is to develop ways of dealing with these issues.
In particular, the human rights and democratic organizations
themselves should develop their own capacity to deal with in-coming
information. They need a way to capably counteract problems in their
initial stages, thus controlling the damage easily created by the
fake news conglomerates.
Discussions by the public
should necessarily involve discussions on the impact of fake news.
Specifically, impact on humane causes, ways of evolving global
consensus and dealing with this enormous threat--not only to the
work of human rights and democracy but to civilization as a whole.
Sex should be
taboo no more!
January 7, 2020
WHAT I mean is that the
open discussion of sex in public should not anymore be considered as
taboo. Given the terrible state in which this basic human faculty is
massively abused and misused today, we should proclaim the true
gospel about sex relentlessly, “in season and out of season” as St.
Paul once said. (cfr. 2 Tim 4,2)
I believe that a great
contributing and aggravating factor to this mess is precisely to
consider talking about sex in public as taboo, a no-no. This allows
the demons to pull their tricks on us unchecked. They would have a
heyday. And we, of course, become their sitting duck.
Of course, the discussion
should be done with tact and prudence. This is always the case
whatever the topic or issue is involved. But such tact and prudence
should not be taken to mean that we should be shy about talking
openly about sex.
Given the fact that people
nowadays can talk openly about anything, including the frivolous and
inane topics, we should be quite open also in talking about sex
which plays a very important role in our life.
The gospel truth about sex
is that it is a God-given human faculty that is charged with the
procreation itself of man. What that means is that through sex, man
cooperates with God in the creation of another man. It is therefore
a very sacred faculty, given the fact that of all God’s creation, it
is man who is considered his masterpiece.
This gospel truth about
sex should sink in deep in the consciousness of everyone. It should
produce the appropriate attitude, skills and virtues to conform
ourselves to such truth. It should be the seed for the development
of a very important virtue of chastity.
How to make this gospel
truth about sex to sink in deep in the mind and heart of everyone
should be challenge to all of us. We really should help one another
here, and find effective ways to counter, if not remedy and heal the
many disorders and anomalies associated with the grave abuses of
We cannot deny that for
many people, especially the young, their understanding of human
sexuality is practically detached from the law and nature of sex as
defined by our faith and as lived in union with Christ. It is all at
the mercy of their blind and erratic bodily and earthly conditions.
There is a lot of sexual
addiction and aberrations and perversions nowadays. People are
starting to even legalize and normalize them. Even little children
are not spared from this mess. Pornography is rampant and easily
accessible. Many people are not anymore in control of their
sexuality that has gone practically amok, in runaway wildness.
But despite this very dark
development in the world today, there is always hope. God never
leaves us despite terrible things we do to go against his will. In
fact, this serious world predicament of ours can occasion a great
and strong intervention of God.
But, definitely, we have
to do our part. Aside from relentlessly proclaiming the gospel truth
about sex in public and in private, let us promote the practice of
spiritual direction and confession, impart the skill of developing a
true spiritual life of prayer, sacrifice and recourse to the
sacraments, the development of virtues, especially chastity. The
virtue of chastity has to be ceaselessly given witness to and
The usual problem we have
is that we are not with God, although God is always with us. With
that condition, we have no way to resist the temptations that come
from our wounded flesh, the sinful allurements of the world, and the
tricks of the devil.
We have to understand that
we are nothing with God, a truth that up to now seems still to be a
breaking news to many people.
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One of the great options to consider for a business emergency loan
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business loan with the best conditions.
overworked, isolated, etc.
December 11, 2019
A NEWS item recently from
the US reported that many American priests are stressed out, burned
out due to the load they carry, and that many of them feel isolated.
To top it all, they are assailed now by a lot of scandals ranging
from financial mismanagement and sexual abuses.
My immediate reaction to
this item is, of course, to pray for them. Let us hope that both the
concerned Church authorities and the priests themselves would find
some effective solutions to these problems.
I also felt that there
must be some relation between these problems of overwork and
isolation, and the consequent scandals that now stain the image of
priests in the US. When one is tired, exhausted, feeling isolated
and uncared for, I believe we have a terrible mix that makes one
most susceptible to all kinds of anomalies and disorders.
What also came to my mind
is that more or less the same problems beset many of our local
priests also. At least the few I know complain about having so much
work that they can hardly cope and that they want to have someone
who can listen to them and share their plight. They want to vent out
some bad air that is compressing in their heart.
These problems are always
a challenge to the Church authorities who should come up and animate
appropriate programs, structures and networks. More than these, they
should find ways of how to go to the personal level of each of the
priests in their care.
The care for priests
should step out of the impersonal bureaucratic mold. The relation
between bishops and priests and among priests should be fraternal
and friendly. If this atmosphere is missing, something drastic and
immediate should be done to resolve it.
One idea in this direction
could be the promotion of priestly societies that would foster
priestly fraternity that is vivified by a particular charism or
spirituality. All priests should be encouraged to join these
societies. These societies can help eliminate or at least minimize
that dangerous situation where priests would feel isolated and
The practice of spiritual
direction, confession or just friendly chats where issues, problems
and difficulties are brought out should be constantly encouraged. It
cannot be denied that many of the priests have the tendency to keep
to themselves, not wanting to open up to anyone.
In that way, they do not
become transparent which is a condition the enemies of God and of
our soul like so much. Priests should learn to be brutally sincere
about the condition of their spiritual and priestly life. They have
to call a spade a spade. Hiding things that are significant in
priestly life would be like keeping a pact with the devil.
It is when priests have
spiritual direction, confession or chat with a friend that they can
be better helped in their life of prayers and sacrifice, so
indispensable in priestly life and ministry. It is undebatable that
when a priest’s life of prayer and sacrifice is not in order, his
priestly life and ministry will simply collapse sooner or later.
In spiritual direction,
confession or chats, priestly problems and issues can be better
sorted out and given appropriate solutions, suggestions and action.
I know that dioceses hold
for their ongoing formation for priests regular annual retreats and
monthly days of recollection. These means of formation are always
good, except that many priests attend them mainly for compliance
Hardly anything about
spiritual conversion or growth and enrichment is achieved. How to
have the proper effects of these means of formation is indeed a
great challenge for everyone! But no matter how daunting the
challenge is, both Church authorities and priests themselves should
just persist in finding the appropriate solutions.
Peace Talks: The Way Forward”
Statement of its 8th Ecumenical
Church Leaders’ Summit on Peace
December 8, 2019
The Philippine Ecumenical
Peace Platform (PEPP), gathered for the 8th Ecumenical Church
Leaders’ Summit on Peace in Silang, Cavite, under the theme: “Being
a Church for Transformative Peace in these Challenging Times”. The
Summit brought together 110 church leaders – clergy, women
religious, and lay – from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao representing
five major religious federations/groups* in the Philippines with the
participation of international partners, youth and other peace
advocates from civil society and other faith traditions.
The Summit participants
heard testimonies from the three (3) major regions of the country,
expressing the common experience of worsening poverty, especially
among rice farmers, and intensifying violence, with seemingly no end
in sight. There was shared sadness over the loss of innocent lives,
those who by virtue of serving the poor and oppressed, are maligned
as supporters or members of front organizations labelled as
“Communist Terrorist Groups”. There was shared recognition that
dialogue and peace talks are urgently needed but effectively
unworkable when the Government of the Republic of the Philippines
through the Department of National Defense (DND), has demonized the
Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)/New People’s Army (NPA)/National
Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), as a Communist Terrorist
The PEPP Summit took time
to pray and remember those peace advocates who have been
incarcerated and even murdered for their principled commitments to
work for peace and justice. The Summit lifted up Atty. Benjamin
Ramos assassinated in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, whose murder
remains unsolved. Mr. Rey Claro Casambre, of the Philippine Peace
Center, who was arrested on December 7, 2018 and is languishing in
jail for a year, due to charges he denies and is presently proving
in court to be false accusations against him. The Summit unanimously
voted to call for his immediate release and those of other peace
consultants as well. The participants also prayed for and expressed
deep concern for Sister Ellen Belardo facing a warrant of arrest
following a perjury case filed against the Rural Missionaries of the
The PEPP Summit entered a
process of discernment on how to be a light and salt of the earth
for transformative peace. It drew out suggestions from the
delegates, strategies and best practices for peace. The recurring
theme was dialogue, reconstituting the Peace Panels and the
resumption of the Peace Talks as the only way forward.
The discernment process
also emboldened the delegates to continue expanding and reaching out
to the Filipino people and offering a message of positive peace. A
peace that is not won by the barrel of a gun, nor by demonizing the
enemy, but through constructive dialogue. This is through the
pursuit of a peace agreement that is mutually acceptable and will
address the root causes of the longest-running armed conflict in
Asia to date.
The PEPP Summit welcomed
and celebrated the recent news reports received on December 5, 2019,
that President Rodrigo R. Duterte is sending his emissary, Labor
Secretary and erstwhile head of the government peace panel, Sec.
Silvestre Bello III, to meet with the NDFP leadership in Utrecht,
Netherlands, to commence back channel negotiations toward the
possible resumption of the formal peace negotiations. The news was
also positively welcomed by NDFP Chief Political Consultant, Prof.
Jose Ma. Sison. The PEPP Summit hopes that these developments will
pave the way for the immediate resumption of formal peace talks.
After three days of
reflection and discernment, our calls remain resolute:
For the Government of the
Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front
of the Philippines (NDFP) to work towards the resumption of the
formal peace talks to address the roots of the armed conflict. To
immediately work for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on
Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and a bilateral ceasefire
For the Government to
immediately release Rey Claro Casambre and other political prisoners
including NDFP peace consultants on humanitarian grounds and for the
CPP-NPA-NDF to release prisoners of war as well.
For faith communities to
expand the effort to conduct creative activities (formal and
non-formal education, both in public and private schools) and
dialogue under the banner of PEPP, and to further broaden the
support for resumption of the GRP-NDFP formal peace talks.
We vow to continue to use
our faith resources and moral leadership to further expand the work
of PEPP throughout the Philippines. We will not stop and we will
break the walls among religions and build bridges instead. As we
pursue the promise of peace and the reign of God, we affirm the
words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: “Blessed are those who
hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.”
Issued and signed on this
6th day of December 2019.
PEPP is a platform for 5 church institutions/groups, namely, the
Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), National
Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Association of Major
Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) with organizations of
Religious, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) and the
Ecumenical Bishops' Forum (EBF), in working for a just and enduring
peace by supporting the peace process between the GRP-NDFP. ]
Message of Filipino youth to world leaders on the 25th UN Conference
of Parties by the Stewards and Volunteers for the Earth Philippines
December 4, 2019
We are sending this
message from the Philippines where currently, we are being hit by
typhoon Tisoy’s (Kammuri) heavy rainfall and flooding.
We are sending this
message to all of you, our supposed leaders, who have the time to
gather and do prestigious planning while many of us here are
preparing for what could be another rock bottom for us and our
countrymen. This may just be the last time that some of us in the
Global South will ever have the chance to relay this message of
urgency where climate-induced disasters have become the new normal.
You all constantly speak
of development. You all speak of eternal economic growth. You all
make promises of wealth, abundance and change, which get our hopes
high at first. But your promises fade just as quick as the time you
pronounced them leaving us desperately hanging with all your empty
You talk and forget, but
We remember the lives that
have been washed away by your criminal neglect and compromises. All
the nameless numbers that drowned in heavy floods, the poor who died
of hunger in droughts, and the indigenous and urban communities
displaced for the sake of your “development” projects.
The science has always
been clear: it is the profit-centered economy that is destroying our
planet. Call it whatever you want: business, entrepreneurship,
capitalism, whatever. One thing is clear: the unhindered pursuit of
outrageous amounts of super profits for a powerful few is what
brings about disaster and even death to the global population.
Life is even more
difficult for us here in the Philippines. We are a tiny,
archipelagic nation with the least carbon footprint and greenhouse
gas emissions, yet we are among the ones who suffer the worst
impacts of this climate crisis. We who live in the Pacific bear the
amplified effects of unstable climate conditions.
And for this, we would
like to address in particular our dear leader, President Duterte.
The moment you became the
16th President of the Philippines, we knew change has come. But not
in a way that is favorable to us. Your campaign was very promising
on letter, but you did not deliver. Poverty is still rampant.
Ecological devastation has worsened, and is increasing at an
You even had the nerve to
tell ASEAN leaders to “not sacrifice environmental for progress,”
and you wanted to enforce “sanctions vs. violators” of the Paris
Agreement on climate action. But how about the continuing operations
and expansions of coal-fired power plants here in our country? How
about the development projects under your Build, Build, Build
program to entice foreign investments at the expense of our
We would like to remind
you of how empty and devoid of meaning your words are. We would also
like to remind you of your responsibility, as the sworn leader of
this nation, to ensure the welfare of your constituents and our
We expect nothing less but
the declaration of a climate emergency. We shall see you amend all
policies that exacerbate our already vulnerable situation, and
allocate all resources for ordinary Filipinos to successfully adapt
to the impacts of climate change. We demand that you, as well as
your delegates, hold accountable the rich developed countries in the
Global North to pay their climate debt and push for maximum
reduction in their GHG emissions.
For you, and for the rest
of our global leaders in the 25th Conference of Parties, our message
is simple: NO MORE COMPROMISES.
Act now, or we will. We
are watching you.
The value of the
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
November 15, 2019
WE should never
underestimate the power of the vocal prayers. They may sound trite
and worn-out after years of simply mechanically praying them, but
they actually are the quickest and easiest way we can make use of to
put ourselves truly and divinely inspired.
And the simple reason is
that these prayers are truly inspired prayers. They are not just
human inventions, products of our pious creativity. They come
directly from Christ, as is the case of the Lord’s Prayer, or from
the lips of important biblical characters as is the case of the Hail
Mary and many other prayers.
Of course, there are also
many other vocal prayers that are composed by saints and by Church
authorities who are given such power by Christ himself. The
liturgical prayers at Mass and in the celebration of the other
sacraments, as well as breviary of the priests, are very
enlightening and helpful, to say the least.
If we would just put our
mind and heart into praying them, if we would just pray them with
faith and piety, there is no way but for us to be transported deep
into the spiritual and supernatural world where our deepest
yearnings are satisfied, at least for a time.
These prayers also teach
us what to say when we pray, what to ask from God, what attitudes
and sentiments we ought to have toward God, others and everything
else in this life, especially the different situations and
predicaments that we can encounter in life.
They have the power to
educate our mind and heart, conforming them to the mind and heart of
Christ, which is what actually is proper to us, since we are being
created and redeemed to be God’s image and likeness, children of his
In fact, when we pray the
vocal prayers, we would praying together with and through the Holy
Spirit. Our prayer would not just be our own prayer, but also that
of the Holy Spirit, of Christ and of his Church, since the Church is
the mystical body of Christ! We should never feel alone when we pray
the vocal prayers. We have to realize that we are in very good
company when we pray them.
If we only know what is
involved when we pray the vocal prayers, I am sure that we would be
deeply motivated to make use of them very often, especially in our
moments of difficulty and special need.
That is why the vocal
prayers should be taught to everybody as early as possible, as in
teaching them to little children, explaining well their importance
and effectiveness, and supporting such catechesis with clear
examples of the elders.
Let’s remember that the
little ones learn more from what they see than from what they hear.
When they see their parents and older siblings praying the vocal
prayers with fervor and piety, it would not take long before these
kids would do the same. Their capacity to follow or imitate what
they see is big. Thus, the practice of the family rosary is most
Of course, we should pray
these vocal prayers with naturalness, without exaggerated gestures
that can only betray some hidden motives of a misunderstood sense of
holy pride, vanity and piosity, the caricature of piety.
But naturalness does not
mean that we shy away from some public display in praying the vocal
prayers, as when we do pilgrimages, etc. The vocal prayers should
not be considered as simply something personal and private. They
have a strong social and public character also. They actually do a
lot of good to people in general.
These prayers should not
be regarded as only for children or old women who have nothing
better to do than to pray the whole day. Such attitude can only
betray one’s ignorance of the value of the vocal prayers, if not
one’s defense mechanism to justify his laziness, lack of faith, etc.