FAST FACTS: What you need to know about the Philippine News Agency
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine News Agency (PNA) is once again in hot water after posting an article that downplayed the historic ruling against China over the South China Sea on Sunday, August 6.
The piece, originally posted as a commentary on China’s state-run news agency Xinhua, tagged the decision won by the Philippines in July 2016 at the Permanent Court of Arbitration as an “ill-founded award.”
The PNA on Wednesday, August 9, took down the article after being criticized. It can still, however, be accessed through Google web cache.
The recent errors mar the 43-year history of the Philippines' official news agency.
Established in 1973, the PNA was initially a teletype newswire service that replaced the Philippine News Service (PNS). In 2003, the agency launched its online presence.
Who oversees the PNA?
The PNA is one of the many agencies supervised by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) by virtue of Executive Order No. 4 issued by President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2010.
It is also directly under the office’s News and Information Bureau (NIB). The agency’s acting executive editor is Luis Morente, a long-term employee of the bureau.
What can the PNA publish?
Section 16 of Executive Order No. 297 in 1987 states that the NIB is primarily responsible for ensuring “efficient, effective, productive, and economical” dissemination of information relating to the government and its services.
Aside from stories related to the government, the PNA had also used articles from other state-run news agencies in the past such as Russia-based Sputnik and Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency, among others.
First time PNA committed a mistake?
The publication of an opinion piece from Xinhua isn’t the first blunder of the PNA. In fact, there are at least 3 known boo-boos the PNA has committed in 2017 alone, with two of them happening in the month of May.
On May 15, it reported that Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III said 95 nations were "convinced" there are no extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the Philippines.
This was very different from what Densing really said: "After Senator Alan Peter Cayetano made also an overview of the true situation of the human rights situation in our country, including the anti-illegal drugs campaign. We were very confident that the 109 countries who attended the interaction, the UPR interaction with the Philippines, were convinced."
On May 27, PNA used a photo from the Vietnam war to accompany a report on the Marawi siege. The photo was misrepresented as having been taken in Marawi. Wikimedia Commons describes the photo taken in Vietnam – not Marawi – as "Troops of 'A' Company, 1st Air Cavalry Division, checking house during patrol".
The PNA was quick to revise the stories and admitted that these mistakes “cast doubt on our integrity.” The agency even vowed to review its procedures following the photo error in May 2017, adding that it does not aim to sow misinformation.
"While there have been lapses in our judgment, it has never been the policy of PNA to tolerate erroneous reports, and it has certainly never been our intention to sow misinformation, much less share what is termed nowadays as 'fake news'," it said in a statement.
With its latest mistake involving an opinion piece from Chinese-run news agency, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said they will take appropriate action against liable officials. (READ: Andanar asks PH News Agency to explain Xinhua article) – Rappler.com