Zamboanga del Sur

Army enlisting media workers against fake news – Brawner

Merlyn Manos

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Army enlisting media workers against fake news – Brawner

Army chief Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner Jr. gestures during a news conference in Cagayan de Oro in 2021.

Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

Army chief Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner Jr. says the military recruitment of media workers is aimed at developing the military's information operations capability

ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR, Philippines – Army chief Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner Jr. announced that the military has started recruiting media workers to strengthen its information operations capability, and counter “fake news.”

Brawner’s announcement in Zamboanga del Sur on Thursday, August 11, was met with raised eyebrows by several Mindanao-based journalists who said the Army would need to clarify if it was recruiting media workers to become full-time military personnel or for part-time work.

Brawner told reporters on the sidelines during the turnover of command at the Army’s 1st Infantry “Tabak” Divison in Labangan, Zamboanga del Norte, that the Army has started the recruitment “for special enlistment” of media practitioners.

“Kasi dine-develop natin yung ating (It’s because we are developing our) information operations capability – our capability to reach out to give the right of information at hindi (and not) fake news,” Brawner said.

The recruited media workers, he said, would help the Army correct the wrong information spreading via social media platforms so that soldiers can focus more on their work.

Veteran Iligan-based journalist Bobby Timonera of Mindanews said Brawner’s pronouncement meant that “the military acknowledges the importance of the role of media in bringing out correct information to help combat fake news.”

“But I’m hoping that the recruited media personnel will then be part of the AFP, working full-time under the military, and not be journalists anymore, moonlighting in the AFP, just to avoid conflict of interest,” Timonera said.

Richel Umel, a former chairman of the Iligan-Lanao del Norte chapter of the National Union of Journalists of Philippines (NUJP), said the recruits should decide whether or not they would become members of the Armed Forces.

Once they get recruited to the Army, Umel said, they should stop presenting themselves as journalists.

“We can’t serve two masters at the same time,” said Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent Jigger Jerusalem.

Jerusalem said the announced recruitment of media workers into the Army was a result of a misunderstanding of the media’s role in society.

Brigadier General Antonio Nafarrete, the new commander of the 1st Infantry Divison, said he was waiting for instructions about the special enlistment of media workers.

In the meantime, he said, the Army division would continue its work against communist rebels, started by his predecessor, Brigadier General Sino Cruz. –

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