WATCH | PNA gets flak – again – for reposting Chinese op-ed piece slamming arbitral ruling

August 10, 2017 - 10:50 AM
Excerpt from the Xinhua opinion piece that PNA reposted. (News5 video image)

MANILA, Philippines — The state-run Philippine News Agency, which has been pilloried in recent months for releasing inaccurate and misleading reports, has again come under fire, this time for reposting a Chinese editorial that criticized the arbitral ruling that upheld Philippine claims to territory in the South China Sea.

The latest boo-boo saw the piece titled “Time to turn a new leaf on South China Sea issue” posted on the PNA website on August 6.

The editorial described the verdict of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Netherlands as “ill-founded” and claimed “the situation in the South China Sea has stabilized and improved thanks to the wisdom and sincerity of China and the parties concerned.”

After the outcry that followed the article’s posting, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, whose office oversees PNA and other state media outfits, explained that, while they have a partnership that allows reposting of reports from Xinhua, these “should undergo scrutiny and must be subject to discernment.”

“We have already sent a memo to PNA to explain in writing why they should not be held liable for any administrative charges,” Andanar said in a statement. “Appropriate action vs PNA officials and/or staff if they are found to commit negligence in carrying out their duties and responsibilities.”

Communications Sec. Martin Andanar’s statement as posted on PTV’s Facebook page.

In May, the PNA was caught in successive blunders, the first over a report following the universal periodic review of the Philippine record by the United Nations Human Rights that falsely claimed 95 countries were “convinced” that no extrajudicial killings were happening in the country; the second over the posting of an unattributed Vietnam War photograph to accompany an article about the unfolding crisis in Marawi.

Before this, in February, Andanar found himself in the crosshair of criticism from former colleagues in media after he claimed that “as much as $1,000 (was) distributed” to ensure coverage of a press conference at which retired policeman Arturo Lascañas accused President Rodrigo Duterte of creating the so-called Davao Death Squad and ordering scores of murders.

Following this, Andanar stopped speaking for Duterte, a role now exclusively handled by presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella.