State-run wire news service Philippine News Agency expressed regret after posting an unverified content twice but clarified that it was not their intention to spread “fake news.”
“While there have been lapses in our judgment, it has never been the policy of PNA to tolerate erroneous report, and it has certainly never been our intention to sow misinformation, much less share what is termed nowadays as ‘fake news,’” the PNA said in a statement issued Tuesday.
“We regret that these mistakes have cast doubt on our integrity as a news agency. Rest assured we have dealt with our erring personnel and that we are reviewing our procedures on reportage as we continue to uphold our commitment to deliver accurate and balanced news reports to the Filipino people and the world,” PNA added.
The state news agency on Saturday ran a report titled, “Urban warfare a challenge for soldiers in Marawi,” with a photo of a soldier on patrol but drew flak from netizens after it was learned that the photo, a scene during the Vietnam War, was sourced from Wikimedia Commons.
“Upon learning of the error, we immediately took the photo down but not before it was shared by our readers and subscribers,” the PNA said.
In another instance, on May 15 [Monday], the PNA published an article titled, “95 states convinced there are no EJKs in PHL” on the country’s recent United Nations Universal Periodic Review, but DILG Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing, who was quoted in the same report, later denied saying some of the information in the article.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on Tuesday evaded queries from the media who waited outside his office, seeking to get explanation from him on the article and photos which had circulated.
“We will not answer questions from the media,” his executive assistant told Palace reporters in a phone call. Prior to this, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella declined to respond on the posting of alleged “fake pictures,” saying that inquiries should be addressed to Andanar, whose office oversees government media outlets.
Reporters were likewise seeking for Andanar’s comment on his new Assistant Secretary, Margaux “Mocha” Uson, who was caught yet again sharing an unverified image.
Uson supposedly shared photos of Filipino soldiers kneeling in prayer, and asking for prayers for the Philippine army when in fact they were Honduras policemen.
Responding to a fact-check made by online news site Rappler, Uson downplayed claims made by the news organization.
“Rappler minsan gumamit din ng common sense wag masyadong mag magaling. I did not say na Philippine Army yan. I did not say that picture was taken from Marawi. It’s a symbol of army praying,” the PCOO official said. “Common sense lang na hindi sa atin yan kasi may flag sila sa vest nila. Ba’t ko ipopost na sa Pilipinas yan e may flag nga ng ibang bansa. Common sense na it is a symbolism,” Uson said.
(Rappler, use your common sense. Don’t pretend you’re that good. I did not say that the picture was that of the Philippine Army. I did not say that the picture was taken in Marawi. It’s a symbol of the Army praying. It’s common sense that the picture was notours since there was a flag embedded on their vest. Why would I post that it came from the Philippines since there’s a flag there of another country. It’s just symbolism).
The former sexy starlet, who maintains a personal blog with more than 5 million ‘likes’ in Facebook was put in charge of fighting fake news as Communications Assistant Secretary for Social Media, something she had been accused of propagating on her blog.
Amid the unrest as a result of the Marawi siege and Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law, Abella earlier warned the media not to report fake and unsubstantiated news in what he called a proliferation of “alarmist and untrue reports.”
“Given the gravity of the situation in Marawi City, we urge the public to remain calm and not to spread unverified or incomplete news items, even as we urge media practitioners not to report such items that can easily be misinterpreted or sensationalized,” he said.