PNA hit for ‘red-tagging,’ posting ‘fake news’ vs Makabayan solons
MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers belonging to the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives have assailed the Philippine News Agency (PNA) for allegedly “red-tagging” and publishing “fake news” against progressive organizations and party-lists.
PNA is under the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), which defended its 2020 budget proposal before the House appropriations committee on Friday.
ACT-Teachers Rep. France Castro said the government-run website published several reports of her arrest with former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and 16 others after they participated in a solidarity mission in Talaingod town in Davao del Norte in November 2018 without even getting her side.
“Ako, personally, ‘yung mga nakikita ko dun talagang vilifying and red-tagging sa mga progressive organizations and party-lists like us. Ito po ba ay official na policy ng PNA halimbawa itong mga red-tagging at parang isang side lang ang pinakikita…?” Castro said.
PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar denied that they have a policy to red-tag opposition organizations. He said Castro is even welcome to have her own program in one of their media platforms.
“It is not our policy to red-tag any organization… we do our best, and I point out to all of the media agencies of the government, to be as objective as possible and to report both sides whether you’re with the government or opposition,” Andanar said.
PNA News and Information Bureau Dir. Virginia Agtay said they were just narrating statements from their sources in keeping with their mandate to produce news and information materials about the government and its programs.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, meanwhile, slammed a photo published by PNA, the caption of which claimed that residents protested the fact-finding mission on military abuses led by Brosas in August. The caption also seemed to tag Brosas and her group as a “front organization” of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
“Magkano ba ang budget ng PNA? Kasi kung ganito ‘yung klase ng journalism ba? Fake news na meron tayo, best po talaga ilagay na lang natin ito sa mga basic [social] services… This is lying to the people actually,” Brosas said.
The congresswoman also warned of the dangerous effects of such red-tagging.
“This is very dangerous for me. Baka hindi ko po alam anytime soon pag nakita ako ng kung sino man, or ‘yung pag-iisip ay far right and militarist sasabihin ‘you are an enemy of the state therefore I will kill you’,” she added.
Agtay maintained the veracity of the photo and said they are open for any clarification.
“It [photo] came from a legitimate source… open po ang PNA, you can always call us [kung] meron kayong ika-clarify, may sama ng loob…” Agtay said.
PCOO and its attached agencies are proposing a P1.698 billion budget for 2020. This is a 12.23 percent increase compared to its 2019 budget of P1.513 billion.
The budget earmarked for the News and Information Bureau was P127 million, a 1.95 percent increase from 2019’s P124.7 million budget. /kga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.