‘Norwegia’ and other PCOO official announcement blunders

June 15, 2018 - 6:08 PM
President Rodrigo Duterte confers Norwegian Ambassador Erik Forner with the Order of Sikatuna with a rank of datu, on June 13, 2018. The honor was for his years of diplomatic merit and service to the Philippines. But the joyous occasion was overshadowed by flak over a boo-boo of the president's communication office on social media. (PPD/Rey Baniquet)

In a social media post, President Rodrigo Duterte’s communications arm recently cited Norway as “Norwegia,” but it was not the first time that the office has committed an error.

On its official Facebook page, the social media team of the Presidential Communications Operations Office shared a picture of Duterte honoring outgoing Norwegian Ambassador Erik Forner with the Order of Sikatuna.

The caption, however, drew flak since it referred to the country of Norway as “Norwegia.”

There was a flurry of Google searches for the name. Some people pointed out that “Norwegia” is the actual term for Norway—in Polish. But PCOO’s post was written in English.

PCOO’s flubs since 2017: A list 

Despite being tasked to deliver “accurate information” for a “well-informed and enlightened citizenry,” the PCOO has been under the spotlight for its errors on the internet and social media.

‘Grammar fail’ on press IDs 

In March 2018, reporters of media outlets covering Malacañang were given identification cards containing glaring grammatical errors.

GRAMMAR FAIL!Members of the Malacañang Press Corps could only shake their heads in disbelief after the Presidential…

Posted by Elgin Lazaro III on Thursday, March 22, 2018


A text on the ID read:

“Upon expiration or when resigns from his or her agency, this card should be returning without delay to the International Press Center, G/F National Press Club, Magallanes Drive, Intramuros, Manila.”

“This card to be worn during presidential coverage, but subject to specific accreditation/security requirements. It should be worn all times in entering Malacañang and while inside the Palace grounds.”

Philippine News Agency’s editorial slip

The Philippine News Agency is the official news arm of the government. It is under the News and Information Bureau of PCOO.

In September 2017, it gained attention after it published reports that contained notes of an editor in headlines.

Prior to that, the news agency also published a photo from the Vietnam War and used it to report a story on Marawi without citation.

The state media outlet also used a wrong photo for a labor-related story, uploading a logo of DOLE food company and not of the Department of Labor and Employment.

Filipinos also tried to catch the UN Human Rights Council’s attention after the PCOO-run agency published an article with an erroneous title of “95 nations in 3rd UPR convinced no EJKs in PHL.”

UN Human Rights Council called out the PNA was incorrect, citing the nations attending the international periodic review in Geneva last year were not convinced that extrajudicial killings are non-existent in the Philippines.

There were also reports indicating that the news agency has wrongly identified a beheading victim in Mindanao in one of its stories. The individual came forward and said that he is alive.

The case of ‘Fafda’

The official Twitter account of PCOO shared a post in August 2017 that baffled its followers.

The communications arm wrote “fafda,” which were eventually compared to US president Donald Trump’s incomprehensible tweet before, “covfefe.”

The controversial martial law video 

When Duterte declared martial law over the whole region of Mindanao following the attacks of Maute terrorists, the PCOO released an animated video on Facebook that was deemed by critics as similar to propaganda.

An excerpt of the video’s audio includes: “We will all fight in unity. Martial law should be the rule of the land. Martial law, now.”

PCOO has taken down the video after it faced online criticism. The agency also disowned it and claimed it was “not prepared” by the staff.

The real role of PCOO

Led by former broadcast personality Martin Andanar, the PCOO is the lead communications arm of the government, with the goal to become a “vehicle of understanding for a well-informed and enlightened citizenry.”

One of its missions is to inform, educate and enlightened Filipinos on “matters of national importance for inspiring the citizenry to deepen their civic engagement.”

Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy of the PCOO are joined by her colleagues from the agency at the second hearing on fake news at the Senate on Jan. 30, 2018. (STAR/Geremy Pintolo)

Last year, an official guide has been drafted for government agencies and offices on the usage of social media platforms to “foster good governance, transparency and accountability, citizen participation, productivity and organizational performance and improvement of public service delivery.”

Under the proposed administrative order, government social media teams are required “to verify information; check grammar, spelling and punctuation; and be quick in admitting mistakes and in correcting inaccuracies.”

As of the moment, however, the administrative order remains in draft form.