Lorenzana orders probe on ‘unacceptable’ photoshopped image of rebel returnees
MANILA, Philippines — Despite the apology of the Philippine Army unit concerned, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana ordered Saturday a probe into the manipulated photo of rebel returnees in Masbate.
“I have directed the CG (Commanding General) Army to make an inquiry,” Lorenzana said in a statement, referring to Army Chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay.
Lorenzana, who called the manipulation of the photo as “unacceptable,” assured the public that those behind the altered photo would be punished.
“Sanctions will be meted to those who perpetrated it. This is very serious because it undermines the efforts of the whole organization, the AFP,” he said.
“The military is doing well enjoying an unprecedented high trust rating from the people. And now this? This action is unacceptable,” he added.
The photo shows a lineup of people with blurred faces and a table full of rifles, but the “returnees” appear to have no shadows, causing netizens to question whether or not the returnees were just edited into the photo.
In a statement released also on Saturday, Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, said AFP Chief of Staff General Noel Clement has ordered “a thorough investigation” on the incident.
Arevalo said “it is a well-settled policy in the AFP that press releases be appropriately reviewed and validated” and “if photos on file are to be used, it must be labelled accordingly as such.”
“We uphold the highest standards in reporting and delivering information to the public,” he said, adding that “everyone adheres to it as our credibility, no less, is at stake.”
He shared Lorenzanas view that “any infractions will be punished.”
In a separate statement also on Saturday, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, Philippine Army spokesperson, echoed Lorenzana and said, “We will investigate this matter and hold whoever is accountable to face the appropriate sanctions.”
The Army unit involved, through its spokesperson Major Ricky Aguilar, has admitted to the mistake and issued an apology, saying they photoshopped the picture “for the sole purpose of ensuring the safety of the lives of the [former rebels] and their families.
Zagala assured the public that “the Philippine Army Headquarters hold our line units in high regard when it comes to the release of information to the media and the public, and their admission to the mistake is proof of their commitment to the high standards of public affairs principles.”
Edited by JE
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