Philippine fact-checking collaboration Tsek.ph relaunched on Monday, January 24, with an expanded membership featuring more partners, in time for the May 9, 2022 elections.
With the goal of providing the public with accurate, true and timely information, Tsek.ph is a collaborative fact-checking project with partners from different academic institutions, media, and civil society organizations, led by the University of the Philippines (UP). It was first launched in 2019, and was relaunched this year especially to guide voters in fighting disinformation in this time when the digital world allows everyone to post and share anything, regardless of veracity.
“Initiatives like Tsek.ph are vital and necessary especially now when an enlightened Filipino citizenry is key to our successful election,” said UP Vice President for Public Affairs Dr. Elena Pernia in her opening remarks. “Everyone needs to learn about the value of the elections and to understand how information may be right or false. We must all realize. And I suppose most of us do, that the persons we give our vote will impact several years of our lives.”
The importance of fact-checking in making a community that is well-informed was emphasized by the keynote speaker Baybars Orsek, director of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). According to him, “fact-checking today is at the intersection of accountability journalism and technology, serving the public true, multi-layered publishing. We rate state politicians, even sometimes we notarize the authenticity of all sources of multimedia, and we put our credibility at stake while doing both.”
While Orsek commended Tsek.ph in spearheading the battle against disinformation and serving Filipinos with truth, he also stated that the election would bring scrutiny to the group.
“I recognize that the election is around the corner, and fact-checking will be receiving more scrutiny than ever in the Philippines,” Orsek said. “I strongly encourage everyone to honor and as part of it is transparency in its effort. Fact-checking is supposed to be an ongoing discourse but one with the commitment to facts and accuracy.”
“This noble collaboration effort is a reminder of the importance of working together when facts under attack and fact-checking is more needed than ever.”
From three academic institutions and eleven media organizations in 2019, Tsek.ph has 21 initial members as of the virtual relaunch and is still expanding.
Colegio de San Juan de Letran, University of Santo Tomas, Trinity University of Asia Communication Department joined the Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, the University of the Philippines, Los Baños, and UP Department of Journalism’s Fact Check Patrol and Fact Rakers are the academic institution partners. All of them through representatives were proud to be part of Tsek.ph and vowed to be active in fighting fake news.
Media partners FYT Media, Interaksyon and Philstar.com, MindaNews, PhilStar Global, Philippine Press Institute, PressONE.ph, Probe, Rappler, VERA Files, ABS-CBN Integrated News and Current Affairs, and DZUP 1602, shared their commitment to fighting disinformation especially in time of the upcoming election.
“This is the second halalan season that we are taking part in this initiative but also this is the first time we’re covering an election with very limited resources due to the killing of our franchise renewal application,” said Ging Reyes of ABS-CBN. “Still ABS-CBN is committed to fight disinformation and provide the public with accurate and relevant information so they could make an informed choice in the elections.”
DZUP 1602’s Station Manager Ms Ivy Claudio also stated support,“We at DZUP 1602 of the UP CMC Department of Broadcast Communication, joins Tsek.ph and its partners in its commitment in fighting disinformation this 2022 election. We are also launching our own campaign, ’Suri sa Halalan‘ 2022 as part of our initiative this 2022 elections.”
For the civil society partners, Akademiya at Bayan Kontra Disimpormasyon at Dayaan (ABKD), BarangayHub, and Fact Check Philippines, they are honored to be in a group that values truth and are committed to supporting a stronger Tsek.ph and in correcting information that circulates online.
Dr. Arminda Santiago, dean of UP College of Mass Communication and president of UPCMC Foundation, Incorporated promised the same commitment, stating that “Tsek.ph affirms the commitment of the UP College of Mass Communication in educating and training our public in being diligent in upholding the importance of truth and genuine information.”
More on the group’s efforts can be learned at its official website.