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Friday, July 19, 2024

Abella defers to Andanar to explain PNA gaffes

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Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Monday deferred to his superior, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, to explain the latter’s threat to send editors of state news wire service Philippine News Agency to Mindanao after the agency was once again became the subject of ridicule late last week.

“Truth to tell, that should be referred to Secretary Andanar especially since it’s pertinent to him, the comments come from him and the best person to explain that would be he himself,” Abella told  reporters in a Palace news briefing.

The Palace official said, however, that he holds Mindanao “in great and deep respect.”

“If there are any references regarding the difficulties it implies or being assigned there, then that needs to be explained by the person who actually made the statement. Thank you,” Abella said.

At a news briefing in Baguio City, Andanar seemed to be following the footsteps of his boss, President Rodrigo Duterte of turning Mindanao into a trash bin after getting pissed off amid the state news wire’s recent blunders.

The PNA over the weekend inadvertently used the logo of a pineapple company with the same acronyms as the Department of Labor and Employment in announcing the government’s pay rules for the non-working holidays in 2018.

This is on top of its latest blunder earlier last week, when it fell for a propaganda by Chinese state newsagency Xinhua, which carried a scathing commentary attacking the arbitration award won by the Philippines as an “ill-founded award.”

The state news wire likewise drew flak last May, when it used a photograph from the Vietnam War in a story about the Marawi siege.

That same month, it posted erroneous information claiming that 95 nations in the 27th Universal Period Review of the UN Human Rights Council were convinced that there were no extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

Asked however if the Communications Secretary is somehow “echoing” the President’s threat—when he sent 228 errant policemen to Mindanao in February—Abella however, defended Duterte, saying that he is up to “making sure that Mindanao is restored and rises up.”

“If at all, there seems to be any implication about hardship, then it’s not about Mindanao or Mindanaoans, it is simply about certain difficulties in the region at this stage,” Abella said.

Meanwhile, Andanar on Monday announced that he has formed a PNA Editorial Board to be led by him to avoid future blunders in the future.

The members of the Board would include Presidential Task Force on Media Security Executive Director Usec. Jose Joel Sy Egco, a former reporter; Communications Assistant Secretary Joseph Lawrence Garcia, Duterte’s former chief information officer; Virginia Arcilla-Agtay, chief of the News and Information Bureau; former journalist Albert Gamboa and PNA acting Executive Editor Louie Morente.

“The Board will act as the last gatekeeper. All stories must pass under its scrutiny,” Andanar said in a news release.

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