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Masters and servants

By: Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate

When is information an opinion and when is it news?

In last week’s Senate hearing on the proliferation of fake news, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson asserted that she is a blogger expressing opinions and not journalist reporting news.

As such, Asec. Uson held the position that she cannot be accused of spreading fake news because as a blogger, she was merely expressing her opinion and as such, is not responsible in validating the accuracy and truthfulness of the news. She effectively asserted that she is free as any other citizen of this country in voicing out her opinion.

We can learn a lot of lessons from that Senate hearing particularly from the statements of Asec. Uson. We are also reminded of a lot of things about democracy and freedom.

There is no question about our constitutionally guaranteed freedom to speak or voice out our opinion. We still have that freedom. The question is really about how responsible we should all be in exercising our freedom of speech. We are remind that such freedom does not free us from being responsible about how, why, what, when, and where we speak.

We are free to speak but we are not free to destroy or even just damage the reputation of others. We are reminded that slander is a crime in our country.

One Palace official maintains the stand that those affected by Asec. Uson’s blogs should just file the appropriate case in court. Such stand sends the wrong signal to the people. The issue is not just about suffering the legal consequences of one’s action. It is about how a government official should act. The comment seems to imply that we should not make an issue out of the irresponsible act of a government official and just file a case in court.

Government officials are first and foremost servants of the people. While they have the same freedoms, rights, and responsibilities as all of us, their actions should be those of a servant particularly when such actions affect their masters. It is just not right for servant to speak falsely about any of their masters.

As officials of the government they have the responsibility to be models not just to other government employees but also to the people.

Is a government official being a true and proper model if he or she writes unverified information in his or her blog and states such information as a fact? Is it the service that the masters deserve from a servant?