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Protect democracy by fighting disinformation

February 27, 2022 7:56 p.m.

FILIPINOS can do their part in upholding our democracy not only by voting for the right candidates but, in this age of technology, fighting disinformation that distorts people’s ability to make sound decisions, panelists in a virtual town hall discussion said Tuesday.

During the launch of Vote Right 2022, a campaign of advocacy group Democracy Watch Philippines in partnership with the Commission on Elections, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, characterized the conscientious voter as someone who possesses an open mind, actively searches for the truth, and who puts an effort into discerning which input from social media must, and must not, be believed. 

A good and responsible citizen votes according to one’s conscience, he said. 

“This is the candidate who will preserve and strengthen democracy, follow the law, respect human dignity, defend our territory in a peaceful but firm way, and rectify the culture of corruption in government,” Bishop David said. 

Meanwhile, Stratbase ADR Institute president Professor Victor Andres “Dindo” Manhit pointed to the apparent disconnect between what voters say they want in a candidate and who are emerging as frontrunners in early surveys – a phenomenon that’s best explained by the prevalence and power of fake news.

“Today’s social media space is infected with the pandemic of disinformation, perpetrated by forces who need to distort historical facts,” he said. 

Manhit pointed out that next to television, the Internet is the second most influential source of election information. The ordinary information consumer, however, does not necessarily fact check articles he or she sees online. 

“The truth must be told. It must be told again and again so it does not drown in the well-funded deluge of lies and disinformation,” he said, as he conjured a governance scenario produced by an election decided by disinformation. 

“Voter education today must combat disinformation with untiring passion and resolve,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Myla Villanueva, chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, emphasized that the work they do is critical to maintaining the credibility of elections. 

“The young people may not remember this, but in the days of manual elections, wholesale cheating was happening in the canvassing where 2000 votes become 20,000 or sometimes, they would remove from one candidate and add to another in very big fashion.”

The PPCRV is legally empowered by the Commission on Elections to perform unofficial parallel counts, conduct voter education and registration campaigns, and be part of the voters’ assistance desk. 

A big part of the PPCRV’s work is engaging the youth, especially encouraging first-time voters to take part in elections. 

Commission on Elections spokesman and director for Education and Information James Jimenez meanwhile emphasized the ultimate benefits of an automated system which eliminates structural advantages such as perceived bailiwicks and command votes.

He also spoke about how the faster counting now eliminates any window of opportunity for dagdag -bawas (vote padding and shaving), and how the prompt release of election results protects election workers and potentially defuses tensions in hotly contested areas.

“When people no longer have time to condition the minds of the public to accept a predetermined result, then you have a fair environment for the elections where the election result is easier to accept for everyone,” Jimenez said. 

While a lot of the success of the 2022 election depends on voters and their vigilance, “we cannot trivialize the contribution of the automated election system to our safe elections.”  

Other speakers at the virtual town hall were Atty. Ona Caritos, executive director of Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), and Dr. Rachel Khan, associate dean of the UP College of Mass Communication and program coordinator of fact-checking initiative Tsek.ph. 

In his closing remarks, Paco Pangalangan, convenor of Democracy Watch, sounded the call for Filipinos to exert due diligence in choosing candidates, to be more conscious of the source and quality of information, adopt a fact-checking mindset, open their senses and appreciate the evidence. 

“The future of our nation is worth the effort,” he said. 

NEWS

Filipinas clobber Singaporeans to grab Group A lead in AFF tourney

July 7, 2022 9:37 p.m.

SKIPPER Tahnai Aniss scored a brace as the Philippine outplayed Singapore 7-0  yesterday to seize the Group A lead in the 15th Asean Football Federation Women’s Championship at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Doing a yeoman’s job for the Filipinas, Aniss scored in the 10th minute off an own-goal by Singapore goalie Beatrice Tan then had a long looping header in the 19th in anchoring  the hosts to their second straight win following a 1-0 upset of Australia last Monday.

With her accurate cross passes, Aniss also set up Sarina Bolden, who scored the game-winner against Australia, with another header in the 38th minute and newcomer Kaya Hawkinson, who scored on a glancing header 11 minutes into the second half.

Slipping past two Singapore defenders, teener Isabella Flanigan opened the scoring floodgates in the 8th minute, Sara Eggsevik had one in the 56th  and Anicka Castaneda , who came off the bench in the second half, added the seventh marker on a follow-up in the in the 69th.

With the victory virtually ensured,  Aniss earned a well-deserved respite and was relieved by Kathleen Rodriguez in the 58th minute of the competition organized by the Philippine Football Federation.  

With their second consecutive win, the charges of coach Alen Stajcic were proudly on top of Group A with six points while the Singaporeans absorbed their first loss in two matches after a scoreless draw with Malaysia last Monday.  

Earlier, Thailand refused to be cowed by Australia yesterday, showing remarkable resiliency and rallied for a well-earned 2-all draw against their fancied rivals.  

Down at 1-2 at the break, the never-say-die Thais levelled the count through Ploychomphoo Somnuek, who struck with a nifty 20-yard volley that hit the top right corner of the net beyond Aussie goalie Jada Mathyssen-Whyman’s reach in the 60th minute.

Kanyanat Chetthabutr had earlier kept the four-time AFF Women’s football champions in the thick of the fight by scoring their first goal from near the midcourt line in the 40th minute, hitting the ball just hard enough past Mathyssen-Wyman, who strayed too far out of the net.

Following their 4-0 rout of Indonesia last Monday, the charges of Japanese coach Miyo Okamoto had four points and were in second spot in the group.

The Matildas, who dropped a 0-1 decision to the Filipinas two days ago, had only one point to show in two matches.         

Aiming to maximize his bench, Stajcic made some changes in his starting lineup, tapping Inna Palacios, making her 50th cap,  as the goalie over Oliva McDaniel while giving midfielder Hawkinson and defender Maya Alcantara their national team debuts.

“0bviously this showed we have a deep bench and the great unity of the team,” noted Stajcic in utilizing most of his players.

The Filipinas try to enhance their semifinal prospects when they go for their third consecutive victory as they  face Malaysia, which drew 1-1 with Indonesia at the Binan Stadium, tomorrow.  

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New COA chief Calida vows to protect people’s money

July 6, 2022 1:46 p.m.

AS LONG as he is in power, newly appointed Commission on Audit chairman Atty. Jose Callangan Calida recently assured Filipinos that public public funds will be safeguarded.

“We are not just acting to promote excellence, but also to make it a habit here in COA. We have to do our job properly, be the best in our field,” Calida of Davao City said, adding that the government’s auditing agency will be transparent and fair to the public.

Calida met the media during his first day in the office, saying that he would do whatever it takes to protect every single centavo of the people’s money.

The Commission on Audit is an independent constitutional commission with the primary function to examine, audit and settle all accounts and expenditures of the funds and properties of the Philippine government.

“COA auditors should correctly scrutinize and carefully inspect accounts. I believe they are the best in the field and we’re here to fight corruption in the government,” he added. “I am warning anybody in COA that if there are shenanigans and mischievous activities, I will remove them.”

The former Solicitor General under the term of former President Rodrigo Duterte met for the first time COA’s commissioners, lawyers and other officials on Monday morning at the COA main office in Quezon City.

Calida, who will be turning 72 on Thursday, also thanked employees of COA for the warm welcome. “Those who are earnest in their work, they will remain in this office and will be rewarded.”

Jayke Joson, a former actor producer, and Jay Ruiz, former news anchor and TV host, were seen accompanying Chairman Calida in his first day at COA.

“We are here to help the new COA chairman set up everything in his first day in office. We believe in him, that’s why we volunteered to give an extra hand to help our Good Chairman in his first day. Atty. Calida is our idol. We call him the Enforcer, because he always enforces the law,” Joson said.

COA Chairman Atty. Jose Calida with Jay Ruiz and Jayke Joson 

“President Marcos appointed a very reliable person to COA. With his track record, he always get the job done. He will not let us down,” he added.

Newly proclaimed President Ferdinand “BongBong Marcos Jr. appointed Calida to lead the COA due to his superb expertise in law and achievements when he led the Office of the Solicitor General, among other government agencies.

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NEWS

Crossovers seek PVL redemption in Invitationals

July 5, 2022 7:01 p.m.
Games Saturday
2:30 p.m. – Cignal HD vs Army
5:30 p.m. – Choco Mucho vs Chery Tiggo

From top to near-bottom, Chery Tiggo believes there’s no way to go but up as the Crossovers seek to get over the hump of their Premier Volleyball League Open Conference debacle with another top podium finish in the PVL Invitationals unfolding this weekend.

Sure, Jaja Santiago’s absence told heavily on their unsuccessful title-retention drive but limping to eighth place in a field of nine certainly didn’t speak well of the caliber of the players, who, under then-head coach Aaron Velez, bucked the odds and defanged the fancied Creamline Cool Smashers in a gripping Open finale in bubble setup in faraway Ilocos Norte last year.

But the Crossovers struggled without the 6-5 middle blocker in the recent Open that saw them grope for form at 1-3 in pool play, lose to the Cool Smashers in the quarterfinals and bow to the cellar-dweller BaliPure Water Defenders in the classification round.

The team management felt it was time to do a crossover, tapping coach Clarence Esteban to whip the team back into fighting form, fulfill the team’s goal to rebound and earn at least another crack at the championship.

That’s despite the pressure and challenge not just from the rest of the six other local squads but also from two top-notch foreign teams spicing up the title chase in the second round of the mid-season offering of the league organized by Sports Vision.

“Our lineup is intact since all players have existing contracts. So our focus is on improving their skills and abilities. We want them to play as a team and we will instill the importance of the role of each individual inside the court,” said Esteban, also the man at the helm of UST boys’ volley squad and current coach of Mapua’s women’s team.

“Expect us to give our very best to rebuild and organize the team for us to achieve our goal,” he added.

Chery Tiggo kept assistant coach Brian Esquivel while Yani Fernandez returns after helping steer Foton to the 2015 Superliga Grand Prix title romp. Joining them are trainer Robertly Boto and strength and conditioning coach Kevin Villegas.

Velez is now the team manager.

Meanwhile, the league will have a press conference with social media platform KUMU today (Wednesday) from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Infinity Ballroom of F1 Hotel Manila in Global City, Taguig.

“We knew what we went through the last conference, so we will work hard and will do it step-by-step to be able to perform well this conference,” said ace Dindin Santiago-Manabat.

The veteran power hitter, however, said Jaja Santiago still won’t be around due to her commitment in Japan but the team remains as talent-laden as ever with Mylene Paat, EJ Laure, Jasmine Nabor and Buding Duremdes raring to showcase their wares and the rest of the Crossovers eager to step up and put Chery Tiggo in the conversation again.

“While the team had a disappointing campaign the last time out, we will not disappoint the team management for the trust it has given us to lead and guide this team,” added Esteban, whose wards will be as much tested as the rest as it kicks off its campaign against Choco Mucho, one of the young but tall and talented squads in the league, on Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

They clash at 5:30 p.m. after the 2:30 p.m. tussle between Cignal HD and Army Black Mamba.

Petro Gazz and PLDT complete the seven local teams with the top four after the single round elims advancing to the next stage that will feature Japan’s Kobe Shinwa Women’s University and Chinese-Taipei’s Taipei King Whales.

Games will be aired live on One Sports (free to Air Ch 41 and Cignal CH 6) and One Sports+ (Cignal Ch 91 SD, Ch 261 HD) with both channels also available on Cignal’s OTT Platform, Cignal Play, with video on demand also available on the platform.

Matches can also be streamed on social media application KUMU and on the league’s official website pvl.ph.

All the games will be played at the San Juan venue except for the July 23 playdate that will feature Creamline against Choco Mucho, set at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

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