THE Senate committee on public information and mass media on Wednesday began its investigation on the proliferation of fake news in the country.

Senator Grace Poe, the panel chairperson, during her opening speech said fake news can destroy the people and the government institutions as it cultivates a culture of lying.

“If unchecked, fake news cultivates a culture of lying. If purveyors are allowed to get away with the lies, they embolden government officials to also lie in order to escape accountability, crush dissent, and commit illegal acts with immunity,” Poe said.

“If fake news is not challenged, it will create lynch mobs out of certain people turning them into an army of character assassins that can be unleashed with one meme to destroy an idea, a person or an institution,” the senator added.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, denouncing the alleged "fake news" naming him to be one of the senators who failed to sign the resolution urging the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to address the spate of summary killings, also criticized the proliferators of fake news hiding behind their computers.

"Ngayon, malalakas ang loob ng iba na tirahin ang gobyerno dahil nagtatago sa likod ng mga computer," Sotto lamented.

[Some people are confident to strike at the government because they are hiding behind computers]

Sotto reiterated that he did not receive an email of the said resolution.

Aside from Sotto, Senators Manny Pacquiao and Cynthia Villar also manifested during the Senate inquiry that they have also failed to get a copy of the said resolution.

Senator Francis Pangilinan, in his opening speech, insisted that his office sent the copy of the resolution to the offices of the members of the majority on September 21.

"On Thursday, September 21 my office sent a copy of the resolution. We have informed our colleagues if they are willing to sponsor it," he said.

He also claimed that the resolution, with 16 co-authors was read on the floor, on September 26, the day after it was filed.

"Kung nais po namin ilihim hindi na po namin sila pinadalhan ng email, basta na lang naming finile," he said.

[If we want to keep it secret we will not send them an email, and filed it right away]

Pangilinan kept his hands off on the news saying that seven senators namely Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto, Richard Gordon, Gringo Honasan, Pacquiao, Villar, and Miguel Zubiri failed to sign the resolution.

Pangilinan during his speech also denounced the spread of fake news in the country.

"Fake news is lying and lying is wrong. If we ought to survive it as a nation, then we must remember simple truths: Hindi tama ang magsinungaling [it's not right to lie] and the lying must stop,” Pangilinan said. (SunStar Philippines)