MANILA, Philippines – The senatorial bet in the eye of the social media storm during the campaign plans to look into possible regulation of speech online.
Senator-elect Nancy Binay told Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa that the attacks she got on social media raised questions about the medium.
“At some point, there should be some form of self-regulation, especially for the generation of my kids. My youngest is only 4 years old but I think by [the time my twins grow up], the scope of social media will be a lot bigger and greater,” Binay said in an interview on Rappler’s #PHvote on Monday, May 20.
She added, “How do we balance regulation and freedom of speech? It’s something we need to talk about in the Senate.”
Binay said she wants to invite bloggers and other netizens to a Senate hearing to get their views on the issue.
“Is it a possibility that they will have self-regulation or is it really impossible? Because mainstream media has self-regulation, right, so I don’t know when it comes to social media.”
Vice President Jejomar Binay’s daughter admitted though that the topic is a “gray area.” She said she also see the need to protect Internet users’ freedom of expression.
“How do you deal with it? Who do you address? When Inquirer came out with an editorial about me, in fairness to them, they gave me a space so I can answer back. When it comes to social media, who do you address it to or ‘pag pinatulan mo baka mas grumabe pa (if you respond, it might just get worse) so my option was I’ll just remain silent and not get bothered by it.”
During the campaign, Binay was the subject of criticism on social networking sites with netizens questioning her inexperience, refusal to join debates, and even her skin color.
Aside from the negative comments, Binay said she was also concerned about how some netizens fell for parody. She cited a satirical article that she supposedly got a temporary protection order from debates.
“At some point, people thought it’s the truth. If Inquirer fell to a parody trap, what more the other people,” she said in reference to an Philippine Daily Inquirer front page featuring a fake Time Magazine cover of President Benigno Aquino III.
Despite her apprehensions, Binay acknowledged the potential of social media. She maintains a Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts.
“I think this is the new form of media. Maybe next to TV, it will have a greater scope,” she said.
Yet Binay said that social media did not yet play a major role in the 2013 elections.
Regulate ad placements
Besides social media, Binay said she also plans to bring down the cost of political ads.
“Especially with this Supreme Court ruling that allowed 120 minutes per station, that’s a lot of money. First, I think we need to regulate the cost of placing ads on TV stations because at some point, it came out that it’s P600,000 for a 30-seconder,” she said.
Binay was referring to the High Court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) on the Commission on Election’s implementation of airtime limits on political ads. The ruling reverted to the practice of allowing candidates to air ads for 120 minutes per TV station instead of 120 minutes for all TV stations.
She said, “So eventually only those who can afford [this] can really run a good campaign. I have to admit, the ads really played a big role in this campaign.”
A Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) report named Binay as among the candidates who had the most ads aired, published or booked from February 12 to April 10. Binay’s camp though said the report was inaccurate.
A political neophyte, Binay said the media exposure helped her but said, “It’s not a cheap campaign and I think we need to do something about it.”
Asked about surveys showing that voters get 80% of their information on candidates from TV ads, Binay said, “If we don’t change the placement of campaign ads, I guess it will still be the same.”
Pro-FOI, cybercrime law needed
The new lawmaker is also in favor of the Freedom of Information bill, saying she believes in transparency.
On the cybercrime law, she said, “We need to have one.”
“Part of my father’s job is he’s also in charge of human trafficking and the cybercrime law, it will address the issue on human trafficking so in a way we also need that law.”
The Supreme Court has indefinitely extended the TRO on the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. Rappler, other news organizations, netizens, human rights lawyers and NGOs have taken a stand against the law, saying it violates freedom of expression and freedom of speech.
Are Filipinos politically incorrect?
Reflecting on the criticism against her online, Binay said she did not understand why people made an issue out of her dark skin.
“It shouldn’t be [an issue] because at the end of the day, we’re all Filipino regardless of color.”
Are many Filipinos politically incorrect?
She said, “I read an article in Rappler that maybe it’s because media is promoting that the standard of beauty is being white.”
“I said it’s funny that when I got abroad, they sometimes would touch my skin and say, ‘Wow.’ Foreigners like to stay under the sun to get this color while we take medicine and inject things just to get white. At the end of the day, you just have to be comfortable with whatever color of your skin you have.”
Binay though said it was another case when she was campaigning in the provinces.
“On the ground, I think I became more endearing to them because they can see themselves by looking at my color. There was a sense of family. I said that maybe because of my color, I think that’s another reason why I placed number 5.” – Rappler.com