Marcos Jr. administration

New PIA chief: Fighting misinformation, disinformation part of our job too

Bea Cupin

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

New PIA chief: Fighting misinformation, disinformation part of our job too

NEW CHIEF. Presidential Communications Office Secretary Cheloy Garafil presides over the oath taking of Jose Torres Jr as Director General of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) during turnover ceremonies at the PIA headquarters in Quezon City on May 29, 2023.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

The journalist-turned-PIA director-general says he wants the agency to be ‘at par’ with private media entities too

MANILA, Philippines – Jose “Joe” Torres Jr., new head of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), said misinformation and disinformation were his concerns too, as he officially started his term as new director-general.

“Fighting disinformation and misinformation is part of [our work] because on social media, because of the prolification of supposed digital creators, the online world has turned murky, and it’s also affecting the real world,” Torres, who took his oath before Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil on Monday, May 29, told Rappler in a phone interview.

“We want to help in facilitating [and making sure] that the right information will reach the people,” he added.

Torres began his journalism career in the 80s. He has since held different posts in a variety of news organizations, from alternative to mainstream media. He’s worked for the Saudi Gazette, Isyu news magazine, Manila Times, The Philippine Post, The Sunday Paper, ABS-CBN’s online news website, GMA News Online, and Remate.

His most recent affiliations include being managing editor of the Union of Catholic Asian News, then editor-at-large for He was also an editorial board member of Radio Veritas Asia.

Torres, who was appointed to the post by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. just the week before, acknowledged both the gains and pitfalls of social media.

“We have to accept that we have democratized access to information but at the same time, it entails responsibility, which some social media users forget about. So we have to engage with the public – where should they be getting their information from?” he said.

“At the same time, we work on protecting their rights, for them to exercise their rights in a democratic system of government,” he added.

What does the PIA do?

The PIA is the “official public information arm of the Government of the Republic of the Philippine” – something not everyone seems to understand, said Torres.

It’s not unusual, said Torres, for people to confuse the PIA with the Philippine News Agency, the country’s “official web-based newswire service.”

“There are calls for us to be independent from government [but] we cannot be independent because that’s [our job], we are the government’s information agency,” he said.

Their job is to amplify and disseminate what government agencies are putting out. For instance, said Torres, it’s their task to tell the public why vaccines are important, as the health department rolls out its vaccination programs. It’s also their job to help the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) inform potential beneficiaries of the services they can avail of, and how they can qualify.

Torres dreams of a PIA that’s “at par with other communication agencies…even the private agencies, news agencies.” He wants to “modernize” the agency – from its equipment to the way it communicates.

“We [will] need a lot of writers, a lot of creative people,” he added.

The PIA, an agency directly under the Presidential Communications Office, covers 16 regional offices and 78 provincial information centers.

Torres told Rappler that the first six months of his term will be spent figuring out his planned modernization, as well as engaging with PIA offices around the country. –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI
Avatar photo


Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.