Former Vice President Leni Robredo discussed the fight against disinformation in the Philippines during her visit to the US at a forum sponsored by the Obama Foundation’s Democracy Forum. The Democracy Forum was initiated by the Obama Foundation, a non-government organization founded by former US President Barack Obama
During the said activity, Robredo even acknowledged their mistakes in addressing so-called fake news “Realizing the mistake in addressing a barrage, series and organized proliferation of fake news against her camp, but apparently it was already too late” she said
During the event, the former Vice President said that “We committed a lot of mistakes in responding to disinformation. It started really bad in 2016, when I won as Vice President of the Philippines. But the first mistake committed was that my initial stance at the time was, ‘they’re fake news, don’t dignify’. We thought it was the right thing to do,” she said in the forum held November 17 in the United States (November 18 in the Philippines).
“It was like, we were trying to correct but the fact-checking was just being heard in our own echo chambers because there’s a separate reality already. It’s like we could not penetrate into the cells created because of disinformation,” Robredo added.
The vicious and relentless disinformation campaign against Robredo continues during her 2022 presidential bid. She had admitted before that disinformation was the biggest challenge to her campaign.
“We have supporters. And our supporters were trying to fight fire with fire. So some of them were trying to fight all the disinformation with, trying to correct everything on social media. We felt that it just added to the polarization,” she noted.
According to Robredo, the polarization was part of the populist playbook, wherein two parties would be pitted against each other. ‘It’s the populist playbook, that you agitate the one party, enrage the other party, and when everything is so polarized, there is no baseline of facts anymore. There’s no chance for people to discuss and do a fair amount of discourse,” the former Vice President of the Philippines said.
Despite the attacks which further intensified during the campaign period, Robredo said the house-to-house campaigning in her presidential bid was a breakthrough though it came at the last stretch. “Our campaign now is to continue those conversations. Start with your traditional networks, like families, work, school, and then go out of the communities,” she said.
Citizen Leni has launched the non-government organization Angat Buhay Foundation right after she stepped down as Vice President. Angat Buhay Foundation is seen to continue the welfare program she started when she was vice president.