THE JUNIOR BEDAN Law Circle (JBLC) conducted a symposium combating the spread of fake news and misinformation, entitled “Plata o Porma,” at the Abbot Lopez Hall last May 17.  

With notable speakers such as Atty. Chel Diokno, Atty. Hannah Barrantes, and Mr. Tristan Nodalo, the event discussed social and political issues that are relevant in today’s society. The topics involved are the discussion regarding misinformation, historical revisionism, and red-tagging. 

“Plata o Porma” was spearheaded by first to third year students of the legal management department. The aforementioned event was attended by 330 delegates. However, the attendees were not solely from the Bedan community as the organizers invited various Legal Management and Political Science student organizations outside San Beda University (SBU).  

In an exclusive interview with The Bedan, Mr. Tristan Nodalo, a news reporter for CNN Philippines, shared his viewpoint regarding digital misinformation which is one of the topics in the event. 

Itong mga discussion na to alam naman nating nag e-exist na. But we have to keep talking about it,” Nodalo stated as he referred to his topic about The Historical Analysis on Fake News and a Discussion to effectively combat Misinformation. 

On the other hand, Atty. Hannah Barrantes discussed how data is the new oil. She connected her talk entitled “Disinformation and You” to the Cambridge Analytica Scandal and how trolls even in the Philippine context use the following strategies, making internet or social media trolls the real antagonist in today’s society. 

For the last speaker, Atty. Chel Diokno, a known advocate of justice, human rights, and youth empowerment, shared how students can file civil cases if red-tagged and as well as cyber libel if the red-tagging took place in social media.  

Further, he also shared some steps and procedures and how red-tagging itself is a form of disinformation. He also left a heartwarming message to JBLC and the Bedan community stating, “Maraming-maraming salamat sa pagkakataong ako’y maparito at makapag-exchange ng ideas sa inyong lahat” 

In terms of the program’s logistics, Arvin John Camarino, the activity chair, shared how they gathered students from their department and how these individuals helped them in organizing the said event. 

“The preparations I’d like to highlight is on how we gathered students from 1st to 3rd year who shares the same interest in fighting for the principal goal of Plata o Porma – to combat fake news. Moreover, within the team behind Plata o Porma, we simply made ourselves imagine a vision as to how we wanted the program to turn out as it did,” Camarino expressed. 

In line with the organization’s initiatives, they also showcased some of the creations of the Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL) from the Manila City Jail, in support of their livelihood, items such as keychains made from the female dormitory while tote bags from the male dormitory. They used these items as part of the souvenirs to the non-Bedan attendees of the event. 

As for the struggles experienced by the Plata o Porma team, Camarino said that they experienced the usual administrative concerns, which for in fact is the loss of papers in the former Student Council (SC), which was further resolved as per Camarino. 

He also added that the Bedan community should expect more for next school year as JBLC unfolds more exciting events for the following academic year. 

Furthermore, Camarino left a message to the Bedan community, specifically when it comes to misinformation and red-tagging among students, stating that “Misinformation is a systematic problem that persists because of an interplay between and among (a) political, (b) social, and (c) economic ills. On the one hand, the existing political landscape that is polar and unjust instills a culture where people are purposely left uninformed. The incentives of corrupt and hegemonic political families, allies, and systems continue to perpetuate illiteracy by deliberately opposing attempts to educate the masses. On the other hand, there is also a social aspect that plagues our ability to be well-informed brought about the ongoing culture that silences discursive and subservient discourses. Lastly, it should be noted that the economic disparity amongst Filipino households unable them to access education, technology, and information at large which is a material constraint that enables misinformation.” 

(with Shelly Bocabel)

Photo by Melaiza Andrea Flores