Roque to resign if anti-fake news bill passes in Congress

By , on February 14, 2018

(PCOO Photo)
FILE: Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. (PCOO Photo)

The face of Malacañang said that he will resign from his position if the bill filed by Senator Grace Poe gets passed in Congress.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. said that this bill which seeks to punish government officials for sharing or spreading fake news is unconstitutional with respect to the freedom of expression.

“I promise that if one such law is enacted by Congress, I will resign from my post and I will sue before the Supreme Court to challenge its constitutionality,” Roque vowed in a press briefing on February 13 in Kalinga.

Roque who is a former lawmaker, countered Poe’s bill, saying that it “singles” out government officials.

“There simply is no basis for distinguishing between the commitment to write the truth if you’re a government employee and a commitment to write the truth if you’re a private journalist,” he said.

But then, he also added that this does not mean that the Palace accepts and allows fake news.

“Malacañang has never tolerated 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.

Contrary to Roque’s claim of being unconstitutional, Poe also said that her bill is anchored to a legal basis.

“Employees and officials of the government is a sector or group that is recognized specifically. To this end, laws for government employees are introduced and passed, e.g.  Salary Standardization Law, Code of Ethical Standards for Government Employees, and others,” she said a few days ago.

The Senator also pointed that public officials and employees are required to be accountable to the people at all times, that they must “uphold public interest over personal interest,” and that they are expected to perform their duties with responsibility and integrity.

“I disagree with Mr. Roque’s reading of the Constitution. His false annotation of the fundamental law is as flawed as is his protective stance over the spread of false information. That is tragic,” Poe added.