MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV called on Tuesday for an inquiry into government officials who publicly release false or misleading information.
Trillanes' Senate Resolution 315 directs the public information committee to hold the investigation to ensure that public officials would not use their position to disseminate "fake, distorted, baseless or fabricated" news and information through the mainstream media and social media.
"Public officials should be more careful and should be held directly responsible for their public pronouncements," Trillanes wrote in the resolution.
The call for an inquiry came after Communications Secretary Martin Andanar claimed that members of the Senate Press Corps received bribes amounting to $1,000 each to cover the news conference of retired cop Arthur Lascañas. Lascañas confessed to having been involved in contract killing as part of the supposed Davao Death Squad under the command of then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
"Meron na rin tayong natanggap na reports na as much as $1,000 ang ipinamigay dito sa presscon na ito. Hindi ko na lang papangalan ang aking source pero meron daw pinagbibigyan ng ganitong kalaking halagang pera para ma-cover ito," Andanar said.
Senate reporters, however, decried Andanar's allegations and demanded a public apology. In response, Andanar claimed his information came from an undisclosed intelligence report.
Trillanes, meanwhile, also noted several instances where Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II allegedly made unsupported claims and unfounded assertions.
Aguirre implicated former Sen. Jamby Madrigal and Laguna Rep. Marlyn Alonte-Naguiat in the alleged attempt to offer a P100 million to New Bilibid Prison inmates as bribe to retract their statements against Sen. Leila de Lima. The two denied Aguirre's allegations.
"Hindi ko po alam kung paano nila nakuha yung ganiyang issue," Alonte-Naguiat said in a radio interview, adding she is ready to face Aguirre and undergo a lie detector test.
Aguirre, however, stood by the allegations.
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