TAKING a page from his boss, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar threatened over the weekend to send erring editors of the Philippine News Agency to Basilan or Jolo if they cannot explain how several embarrassing blunders crept into their reports.
The threat made some sardonic sense when President Rodrigo Duterte applied it to corrupt or erring policemen but merely sounded limp when Andanar appropriated it for his own use.
As the supervising authority over the PNA, Andanar bears ultimate responsibility for the following gaffes :
The erroneous use of the logo of pineapple company Dole, in a story about the Department of Labor and Employment.
The use of an opinion piece from the Chinese state agency Xinhua that called the Philippine victory over China before an UN tribunal “an ill-founded award.”
A report that said 95 countries were “convinced there are no extrajudicial killings in the Philippines” during the country’s Universal Period Review in Geneva, Switzerland, when in fact, the opposite was true.
The use of a photograph from the Vietnam war to accompany a story on the Marawi siege.
Given this growing list of blunders, we are not surprised that the Communications secretary is upset. But then, Andanar is hardly a stranger to errors both big and small.
Only recently, the state-owned PTV 4, which is also under his supervision, erroneously identified Burma was the capital of Myanmar.
Very early in his capacity as Communications secretary, Andanar also promised that the President’s first State of the Nation would be brief—about 38 minutes, we were told—and that it was so inspiring that it made him cry. As it turned out, the speech dragged on for an hour-and-a-half, the longest Sona in recent memory, and the only tears shed were in frustration at having to sit through it all.
Andanar also committed a faux pas of international proportions last year in Laos, when he announced that Duterte would sit between US President Barack Obama and UN Secretary,-General Ban Ki-moon at the Asean summit gala dinner—two men he had only recently insulted as a son of a whore and a fool.
The story turned out to be wrong, creating a credibility problem for himself, his office and the administration.
Perhaps the trouble at the PNA is some twisted form of leadership by example. By the principle of command responsibility, Andanar should follow his PNA editors to Basilan or Jolo, to stem the stream of derision and ridicule like the Palace has never seen.