MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Just own up to the mess.
This was the challenge issued by television network TV5 to Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman in response to her accusations that a TV5 report on an unkempt warehouse of relief goods in Tacloban City contained manipulated footage.
“The network also takes offense at the DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development] secretary's charge that its footage and report on the matter were ‘manipulated.’ Any suggestion that the network or its crew contrived the scenes aired must be viewed as malicious and irresponsible coming from a public official," TV5 said.
“We challenge Secretary Soliman to substantiate the charge that any scene in the report was staged or manipulated in any way, beyond the standard edits necessary to produce the news story for the broadcast audience," it added.
Soliman has denied that the warehouse shown in the TV5 report belonged to the DSWD despite video footage of a banner showing a "Task Force Yolanda – DSWD Hub" banner in front of it.
The report by TV5 correspondent Ina Zara showed rice from various donors spilling from containers and a decomposing chicken in the middle of a messy pile of rice sacks with DSWD labels.
The network said it has conducted an internal inquiry and found that its reporter and camera crew were professional and transparent, and the report itself was "fair, credible and truthful."
The exact location of the warehouse was not mentioned in the report. But according to Soliman, TV5 identified the location of the warehouse in the footage as being in Barangay Caibaan when it aired the news report again on April 14 – more than two weeks after its original airing.
Soliman said the Caibaan warehouse was under the care of the World Food Programme (WFP), and not DSWD. Both DSWD and WFP affirmed this claim in a joint press conference on Tuesday, April 22.
DSWD, in an earlier statement, said its warehouses are located in Barangays Apitong and Abucay in Tacloban City. Both facilities have "Task Force Yolanda – DSWD Hub" banners displayed in front. The WFP facility, however did not, Soliman said.
Soliman, in a letter to TV5 president and CEO Noel Lorenzana published in the DSWD website on Thursday, April 24 – a day after TV5 released its new statement, once again reiterated that DSWD never had a warehouse in Barangay Caibaan.
Soliman said the scene showing the banner and the dead chicken were not shot in the same place.
"To be perfectly clear, this is the manipulation I referred to: One scene in the video clip showed a warehouse with a banner clearly identifying it as the Tacloban Hub of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) This scene was immediately followed by another scene showing spilled rice and the remnants of a dead chicken," Soliman said.
"Clearly, the sequence intended to show that the second scene occurred in the same place as the first scene. This is simply not true," she added. (Watch the TV5 report here)
TV5, in its earlier statement, said the facility shown in the report was within the NFA compound in Tacloban City.
“Raw video footage bear out the claim that the warehouse in question was prominently identified as a "Task Force Yolanda - DSWD Hub." In fact, this warehouse is within the National Food Authority (NFA) compound and it was the very same facility that President Benigno Aquino III visited days after Typhoon Yolanda struck in November 2013," the network said.
In earlier statements, Soliman said it is the DSWD warehouse in Barangay Apitong that is beside the warehouse of the National Food Authority.
Meanwhile, WFP deputy country director Asaka Nyangara, on Tuesday, April 23, said the Caibaan warehouse was already empty at the time of filming in March since the group had moved from food distribution to its cash-for-assets program at around the time.
DSWD 'splitting hairs'
Amid the media war, TV5 called on DSWD not to muddle the issue.
“The DSWD is splitting hairs to deflect accountability. As a "DSWD Hub," the warehouse was under the jurisdiction of the national government, specifically the DSWD. Its assertion that the warehouse was being manned by the World Food Programme (WFP) does not change nor negate what is ultimately at issue here: the unkempt, irresponsible, wasteful, and hazardous handling of relief goods that continue to be sorely needed by citizens devastated by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Official ownership of the warehouse is not the ultimate problem," TV5 said.
“Rather, it is the need for accountability, which the DSWD continues to shirk, and from which the Secretary's emotional and irresponsible conduct attempts to distract,” it added.
Aside from denying that DSWD owned the warehouse in the footage, Soliman has also denied any warehouse – whether of the agency or WFP – was unkempt.
Soliman earlier said she would not pursue legal action against TV5.
In her letter to TV5, Soliman asked the network to "correct the misleading information" and retract its April 23 statement. – Rappler.com