PHILIPPINES— The Marcos admin is set to carry out a digital media literacy campaign to equip the most vulnerable communities with knowledge and tools “to be discerning of the truth,” a Palace Communications official said.

Communications Undersecretary Cherbett Karen Maralit said this during the CyberSafe Against Fake News: Being Smart, Being Safe and Staying Ahead! Ensuring Women and Girls a Safe Online Experience, a side event to the 67th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) in New York.

In her remarks, Maralit noted that the Philippine Congress had tasked the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) to address the growing concern about misinformation and disinformation, especially in the digital landscape.

“Backed by the budgetary support from the Philippine Congress and its confidence in the leadership of the PCO, we took the opportunity to develop mechanisms through which we can bring the online experiences of females of all ages into focus,” she said.

Maralit noted that the PCO upholds women’s rights as they continue “to be undermined by disinformation and misinformation.”

“The PCO, therefore, is positioning itself as a pillar that upholds the rights and welfare of women and girls through a Digital Media Literacy Campaign that will focus on our most vulnerable communities,” she said.

“Taking a context-based and factual grassroots approach, we intend to reach out to, and equip, these communities with knowledge and skills and tools that will enable them to be discerning of the truth as they engage in various social media channels and platforms,” she added.

Maralit said the two-fold path involves the active collaboration by PCO with the private sector, including the stakeholders of the broadcast industry, to establish effective mechanisms against fake news.

The PCO will also guide the public toward a place of strength where they can understand and identify false, incomplete, or inaccurate information.

“We will work to improve the citizenry’s ability to think critically and analyze information,” Maralit said.

“The first step towards this end is identifying reliable and credible sources of information,” she added, noting that the office wants “to achieve this goal with both sensitivity, balance and respect for constitutional rights.”

Maralit said a thorough study would be conducted this month throughout the Philippines, which seeks to refine the target communities where media literacy is most needed; determine the social media platforms through which these communities are most susceptible to fake news; and identify the contents and topics on which these misinformation and disinformation focus.

The study also hopes to identify the profiles of fake news peddlers, understand the influences that open these communities to deceptions, and understand the practices and habits of the target communities that create opportunities for exposure to disinformation and misinformation.

“When we have gathered the results of this study, expectedly by the middle of this year, we will be implementing a nationwide media literacy campaign that will focus on the areas identified,” Maralit said.

She added that the PCO will close the campaign by the end of 2023 with a Media Literacy Summit, where speakers from organizations such as Facebook, Google, and the Philippine Commission on Women, among others, will be invited to share an “equal commitment to this cause.”