Gordon tells PCOO: Focus on issues, not on Duterte's personality
MANILA, Philippines – The content produced by government media may be so fixated on the personality of President Rodrigo Duterte that it is no longer effective in communicating information the public needs, said Senator Richard Gordon during the budget hearing of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).
"Your job is to inform the public. Mayroon pa kayong pasipsip kay President Duterte. Which is – Marcos did that, Cory Aquino did that, that's why maybe you don't get the ratings because nauuna 'yung personality, hindi nauuna 'yung content," Gordon said on Thursday, September 26.
PCOO chief Martin Andanar and other PCOO officials were present to defend the P1.7-billion budget they are requesting for 2020 before a Senate finance sub-committee.
"There's a way of informing the public, making the President look good without announcing that this is for the President alone," Gordon said.
"We're so personality-oriented, that's why we've lost our effect, I think. The ideas are more important than the personalities, with all due respect," the senator added.
The senator did not specify which PCOO programs or content come across as too focused on Duterte instead of issues. But he said the content tends to focus on the government perspective instead of including other sides.
This, he said, likely turns off citizens or foreign viewers who are not passionate supporters of the President.
"If you say this is for President Duterte, wala nang makikinig kaagad. 'Yung kalaban ni Duterte, 'Wala, huwag n'yo panoorin 'yan.' Dadagdagan pa 'yan, sasabihin, 'Duterte channel 'yan eh,'"
(If you say this is for President Duterte, no one will listen anymore. The critics of Duterte will say, "Don't watch that." They'll even add, "That's a Duterte channel.")
Gordon suggested government TV channel PTV4 pattern itself more to the BBC, which receives public funds but presents positions of government critics and dissenting voices, rather than being a government mouthpiece.
PTV4 and other government media should "welcome all sides" in order to fix its "credibility problem."
"No bias, no propaganda. Give them the choice. Democracy is about choice. Once you start putting them in a category, they will say, this is propaganda," Gordon said.
The problem may be that the PCOO, in its very name, focuses on communicating the president. Gordon thinks promoting the President's policies should be just one aspect of a larger public information agency that also communicates programs of other government branches.
Andanar did not directly respond to Gordon's criticisms about the angling of content of government media programs. Instead, he emphasized that for the first 3 years of the Duterte presidency, the PCOO had been focused on improving its presence across various platforms and attracting more viewers.
He reported that viewership of various government media has increased.
In the House hearing on the PCOO's 2020 budget, progressive lawmakers criticized PCOO-supervised agencies like the Philippine News Agency for biased coverage of left-leaning groups.
They said government media is guilty of red-tagging and does not seek the side of groups and individuals they claim are communist.
The Duterte administration has declared even legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines as enemies of the state. The President has accused left-leaning groups of conspiring to oust him. – Rappler.com