By Genalyn Kabiling
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque has offered to resign if a bill penalizing government officials spreading fake news is passed by Congress.
Once he quits his post, Roque said he would challenge such measure proposed by Senator Grace Poe before the Supreme Court, believing it was unconstitutional.
“I promise that if one such law is enacted by Congress, I will resign from my post and I will sue in front of the Supreme Court to challenge its constitutionality,” Roque said during a press conference in Kalinga.
Poe earlier filed a bill seeking to amend Republic Act 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, to penalize government workers who publish or disseminate false information in any platform.
Roque, however, said the measure on fake news was tantamount to violating the freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
“It is presumed to be unconstitutional because it contemplates restrictions. It is therefore prima facie violating the principle enshrined in the bill of rights that there shall be no law prescribed abridging freedom of expression as well as freedom of press,” he said.
Roque added there was no basis to single out government officials in finding liability for fake news. He said the commitment to truth should be imposed on all forms of journalists, whether in government or in private sector.
“I can say with confidence, that oftentimes, sometimes it is by accident, but all writers whether it be journalists in government or private media are equally guilty of publishing false news. there’s no basis for just singling out government officials for criminal liability. in my mind, that’s unconstitutional,” he said.
He maintained that the Palace does not tolerate fake news. “We maintain that freedom of the press is anchored on responsibilities and one such responsibility is total commitment to the truth,” he said.