Andanar asks PH News Agency to explain Xinhua article
MANILA, Philippines – Heads will roll if it is found that negligence by Philippine News Agency (PNA) staff led to their use of an article calling the Hague ruling an "ill-founded award."
This was promised by Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar in his statement regarding the article "Time to turn a new leaf on South China Sea issue."
"We will take appropriate action against liable PNA officials and/or staff, if they are found to commit negligence in carrying out their duties and responsibilities," said Andanar on Wednesday, August 9, in a statement.
Andanar said he and the rest of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) "take note" of the posting of the article after it was blasted by netizens for promoting China's stance on the South China Sea dispute.
The article, originally an opinion piece from Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua, called the Hague ruling won by the Philippines against China an "ill-founded award."
Such a description is often used by China's state-controlled media to question the validity of the arbitral award.
Andanar acknowledged this, saying it is "understandable" that commentaries from Xinhua "reflect China's position on certain issues."
He explained that the PNA reposts Xinhua articles because it has a partnership with xinhuanet.com.
But the PCOO chief emphasized that, because of this, all content from the Chinese news agency must first be checked by the PNA before being reposted.
"All reposts from Xinhua, and all other partner news agencies for that matter, should undergo scrutiny and must be subject to discernment by PNA prior to reposting them," he said.
The PCOO has sent a memo to the PNA asking the agency to "explain in writing" why its staff should not be held liable for administrative charges.
Netizens felt disappointed by the PNA since, as the Philippines' government-run news agency, it should not be promoting the foreign policy stance of other countries, much less China, with which the country is embroiled in a maritime dispute.
"It's like we are promoting the position of China... Even if the PNA and Xinhua are partners, the PNA shouldn't post those kinds of articles," a concerned citizen named Byron Villegas told Rappler in Filipino.
Villegas was among those who spotted the PNA post.
The Hague ruling, which the Xinhua commentary called invalid, was won by the Philippines after a 3-year process initiated by the administration of Benigno Aquino III.
The ruling nullified China's expansive "9-dash line" claim. – Rappler.com