Pacquiao wants gov’t to license bloggers, ‘control’ media

Camille Elemia
Pacquiao wants gov’t to license bloggers, ‘control’ media
'We know that in our Constitution, there is freedom of expression but because of this freedom of expression, naabuso na kasi,' says Senator Manny Pacquiao

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Manny Pacquiao on Tuesday, January 30, said bloggers should obtain government licenses so they would no longer hide behind anonymity in their posts.

At the second Senate hearing on the proliferation of fake news, Pacquiao said it was unfair that bloggers criticize people but they are not held accountable for their actions.

“Do you agree na lahat ng bloggers kailangan kumuha ng permit o license para ma-control natin lahat ng mga — siyempre magtatago ka sa ibang anyo, magtatago ka sa ibang mukha, tapos magpo-post ng below the belt. Unfair naman,” the senator said.

(Do you agree that all bloggers should get permit or license so we can control all of – of course you will hide behind another figure, another face, and you will post something below the belt. That’s unfair.)

Kasi ‘pag hindi na-register ‘yan, madadamay ‘yung mga may mabubuting intensyon…Para sa ‘kin, mabuti pa i-register na lang lahat ng bloggers,” he said.

(If you don’t register that, other bloggers with good intentions would also be dragged into the issue. For me, it’s better that we register all bloggers.)

Pacquiao asked other resource persons whether it is time that media should be “controlled,” saying it is the current problem with technology nowadays.

“We know that in our Constitution, there is freedom of expression but because of this freedom of expression, naabuso na kasi (it’s being abused). Do you think the media in the country, we should control it? I think that’s the problem kasi sa technology natin ngayon, iba na (because with our technology now, it’s different),” the neophyte senator said.

Ruperto Nicdao Jr, chairman of the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), said there are already enough laws to address fake news. The problem, he added, was the implementation.

Nicdao said blogs operate in a “borderless internet” and added that licensing bloggers is “practically asking for the impossible.”

Professor JJ Disini of the UP College of Law said Pacquiao’s proposal is unconstitutional because it restricts freedom of speech. 

Palace Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, and Businessworld Editor Roby Alampay agreed there were already sufficient legislations in place to combat fake news.

“We note there are already existing laws which may be tapped in seeking redress against fake news or against false information,” Andanar said.

Alampay said: “I believe there are enough laws, laws on libel, slander. There are laws on disinformation, laws should hold officials accountable or the data that they come up with.”

Ressa, for her part, said: “I don’t think we should have more legislation. We should impose existing laws on this and demand accountability. I think the problem is lack of accountability, the impunity that is happening now.” –

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email