Vice-presidential aspirant Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Tuesday told members of the clergy here that the Church plays an important role in debunking disinformation and false narratives that are handed down as truth to people.
“Nakakalungkot na ang iba nating mga kababayan ay hindi na nagkakaroon ng discernment of what is truth based on evidence and what is a manufactured lie,” Pangilinan said during his meeting with a group of clergies at the San Sebastian Catholic Church in this town.
“The Church plays an important role in debunking disinformation and fake news as it is very rampant nowadays. The church does not necessarily have to campaign for us, but they must stand against fake news… Mas marami kasi ang mga parokya kaysa sa mga local government so the church has a leverage,” Pangilinan added.
According to Pangilinan, the spread of fake news has long started even before the election in order to mislead and condition the minds of the people to believe a narrative that runs counter to what is truthful.
This does not happen in politics alone, Pangilinan asserted, as this practice also goes deep down in other facets of life like religion, science, and history.
Reverend Father Ian Maniago, the parish priest of San Sebastian, agrees with Pangilinan, saying the Church is already doing its part in addressing disinformation.
Maniago also said that even if the Church receives backlash, it will continue to take a stand especially now that there is a threat against democracy.
“Ang Simbahan, talagang lumalabas na siya at pinapakita kung ano iyong stand niya. Kahit na nga may times na bina-bash siya because it is standing its ground… Dapat lang talaga maayos ang pagkaka-explain ng separation of Church and State,” Maniago said.
Although some parishioners react negatively when the Church reiterates its position on moral issues like stealing, Maniago said the institution will not back down because it is part of the creed to spread the word of God even if it offends sensibilities.
“Ngayon kapag nagsabi ka sa pulpito ng anything about pagnanakaw at pagsisinungaling, marami kaagad nag-rereact. Ang sa amin naman, ni-revise na nga nila iyong history pati ba naman 10 commandments gusto pa nilang i-revise?” Maniago said in jest.
The parish priest also told Pangilinan that the endorsement of ordinary citizens, like the one in Pampanga where he was endorsed by farmers, speaks volume about his character.
“Why wait to be endorsed by politicians if you are endorsed by ordinary Filipinos like the farmers? That sends a strong message na tumitindig at tumataya ang ordinaryong mamamayan para sa ‘yo. And that you are capable of leading this nation as the next vice president,” Maniago said.
Other priests from the Diocese of Iba including Fr. Jhay Em Guilleno, Fr. Oni Maniago, Fr. Omar Paris, Fr. John Arga, Fr. Arwin Yzonsa, and Fr. Dennis Astor were also present during the dialogue.
After the dialogue, the priests led a short prayer for Pangilinan and his running-mate, Vice-President Leni Robredo, inside the San Sebastian Parish.