Japan-ASEAN, PCOO lead 1st media, info forum in Manila

MANILA The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and the Japanese government on Tuesday held the first Media and Information Literacy (MIL) forum in Manila under the Japan-Association of Southeast Asian NAtions (ASEAN) Integration Fund (JAIF).

The forum, titled Cyber Wellness for the Youth, aims to equip people with skills, knowledge and attitude to become smart and proactive consumers as well as responsible contributors of media and information.

In his message read by Undersecretary Marvin Gatpayat, PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar expressed hope that such initiative will enable the youth in the region "to be in control of what they read, become responsibly self-directed and develop a good common sense judgment."

Participants of the event include Filipino delegates from the information and media sector, academe, and youth sectors from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam, and resource speakers from Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, UNESCO, and Facebook.

Japan Embassy to Manila Minister and Consul General Atsushi Kuwabara, who attended the forum, said he is optimistic the fund would help the youth harness the function of Internet without getting trapped into the risks and evil it carries.

"The internet offers us tremendous opportunities. It provides people's quality of life by allowing us to connect and communicate in ways that were not imagined decades ago," he said. "At the same time, there are risks in using this very useful tool."

Now prominent as medium of disinformation, and even cybercrime, Kuawabara said, it is important to equip the youth with skills to better navigate their ways around cyberspace.

He, however, said a bigger challenge is how to achieve it "without hindering the youth from fully enjoying the benefits of the internet."

For his part, Philippine Information Agency Director General Harold Clavite said the faster information becomes accessible, the more dangerous the virtual world becomes.

"Cybercrimes have become a headache for leaders of this new era. Scams involving money and identity theft, as well as human trafficking and the sex trade, have found faster and sneakier avenues to thrive," he said.

"One wrong click can lead an innocent user to destructive computer virus, or have his private details exposed to criminals looking for a quick buck."

Clavite said the forum is one avenue to educate people on how to prevent such things from happening.

"We hope to spur the citizenry to not only spread information that is truthful and accurate, but also timely and relevant with the goal of empowering individuals, communities, and even nations, he said.

Clavite added that the government is poised to roll-out MIL throughout the year using JAIF funds.

Clavite said PIA has committed to allocate funds to continue MIL after 2018, as part of PCOO's commitment to end misinformation and fake news.

We really need to exert such efforts to educate the Filipino public on these issues, Clavite said.

During the forum, speakers covered topics such as of smart and responsible way to use cyber media, building youth resilience on social media, and developing healthy digital habits, among others.

Ramon Tuazon, president of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication, underscored the importance for consumers to evaluate every media content they encounter and produce.

He said everyone now can produce media but to be responsible, an individual must first consider if a content passes ethical standards when published. May it be a blog post, a status or news item, he said such evaluation covers all.

The event was made possible through the cooperation of the PIA, which was lead agency and main proponent of the forum, InfoCom Media Development Authority of Singapore, and the ASEAN Secretariat.

"This is the only program that we have here because the JAIF is initiated by ASEAN-member countries so if some ASEAN member countries would like to continue this kind of event, they can have similar events also in the future," Kuwabara said in an interview.

"Each member country can propose projects and if the ASEAN countries agree on the project then it will start. In this case, the Philippines took initiative," he added.

The JAIF was established in 2006 to support integration of the bloc, as well as promote greater cooperation between ASEAN and Japan.

Since 2006, the Japanese government has contributed a total of USD659 million for the JAIF.

"Japan and ASEAN share fundamental values, including freedom of speech. It is our hope that this fund is used effectively," Kuwabara said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency