President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday has appointed award-winning journalist and two-time National Book Award recipient Jose Torres Jr. as director general of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).
The appointment of Torres, known for his acumen in investigative reporting and vast experience in journalist, was seen to strengthen PIA’s mission of disseminating information about government programs, projects, and services to the Filipino public.
“I am grateful to President Marcos for the opportunity and the privilege to serve the country in these trying times of misinformation and disinformation,” said Torres, who has been covering Pope Francis’s trips to Asia in recent years as a member of the Vatican Accredited Media Personnel.
The PIA serves as the country’s primary information arm, with a network spanning 16 regional offices and 78 provincial information centers.
The agency was mandated is to empower Filipinos by providing them with accurate and timely information, enabling them to actively participate in the nation’s democratic processes.
Beginning his career as a writer for the alternative news service Philippine News and Features in the late 1980s, he has since made significant contributions to the field of journalism.
In the early 1990s, his groundbreaking reporting, later published into the book “Into the Mountain: Hostaged by the Abu Sayyaf,” shed light on the activities of the notorious bandit group in the southern Philippines.
Throughout his career, Torres has worked for various media outlets, both in the Philippines and abroad.
He served as a sub-editor for Saudi Gazette, the national newspaper of Saudi Arabia, as an investigative reporter for the now-defunct Isyu newsmagazine, and wrote for The Manila Times, The Philippine Post, and The Sunday Paper.
Recognizing the growing importance of online journalism, Torres joined ABS-CBN’s online platform in 2001. He later played a pivotal role in the establishment of GMA News’s online presence in 2005.
In 2010, he joined the Bangkok-based Union of Catholic Asian News as its managing editor.
He later became editor-at-large for LiCAS.news, a Church news agency based in Bangkok, and served as member of the editorial board of Radio Veritas Asia in 2018.
Torres’s dedication to his craft has earned him numerous awards and recognitions, including a citation in the 2004 International Tolerance Prize for his article on Filipino Muslims titled “Troubled Return of the Faithful.”
His piece “The Making of a Mindanao Mafia” garnered third prize in the Jaime V Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism in 2004.
Torres has been actively involved in the journalism community, having served as chairman of the Philippine Center for Photojournalism, and currently holding a board member position at the National Press Club of the Philippines.
Educated in Philosophy at the University of Santo Tomas, he later took up units of Theology at the Ateneo de Manila University. Torres honed his journalistic skills by obtaining a diploma in multimedia journalism from the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism in 2012.
Torres is a member of SIGNIS, a Catholic lay ecclesial movement in 100 countries for professionals in the communication media, including press, radio, television, cinema, video, media education, internet, and new technology.
He was a recipient of the US Embassy’s Fellowships for Professional Development through the International Visitors Program in 2005 and was a fellow at the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993.