PCOO wants additional P245-M for activities including media literacy program to fight fake news

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said that he has requested for P245 million more to boost the budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) in conducting activities including its media literacy program in fighting fake news.

Andanar revealed PCOO’s plans to hold the said program during the September 20 Senate hearing on the office’s proposed P1.35 billion budget for 2018.
Asked by Senator JV Ejercito on what his office has been doing to address the spread of fake news, Andanar said that the PCOO supports the Senate bill against fake news passed by Senator Joel Villanueva and is planning on conducting media literacy training in the countryside.

“We’re already drafting an activity that will [fight] fake news through a media literacy program that we are going to be bringing to the grassroots level,” Andanar said.

He added that he already requested for P245 million to boost his office’s budget to spend on several activities, including the media literacy program.

“We have already asked [for] an amended, proposed P245-million additional budget for PCOO. This will include activities on fake news that we will bring to the entire country, countryside,” Andanar said.

The Communications Secretary also said that the PCOO, in its position as the chair of the information committee of the 50th year of the ASEAN, addressed the issue of “delivering the right information to the public” with its ASEAN counterparts. During the forum, the member countries shared “best practices” on ensuring the dissemination of accurate information.

“A couple of weeks back, we initiated … a roundtable discussion on fake news and delivering the right information to the public. So we gathered the information ministers of ASEAN countries in Quezon City and we all talked about, we all suggested best practices that we have to the members of the delegation,” Andanar said.

As for the accusations against the PCOO of spreading fake news, particularly with Communications Asec. Mocha Uson being accused of sharing false information, Andanar denied that his office has shared fake news.

He noted how the news agencies he managed have no problem with fake news.

“If we watch PTV4, the audience will know there is no fake news on PTV4. You will not hear fake news on Radyo Pilipinas. If you happen to talk to Philippine Information Agency staff in the provinces, which by the way are in charge on the ground for development communication, you will not hear any fake news,” he said.
However, the Philippine News Agency (PNA), one of the news agencies under PCOO, has committed a few blunders before. It was busted using a Vietnam war photo from Wikimedia Commons for a Marawi siege-related article and was slammed for using the logo of pineapple processing company Dole Philippines for a story related to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Uson was hit for sharing false information on her popular Facebook page. She was caught sharing a photo of Honduran police while asking for prayers for Filipino soldiers in Marawi, which she later defended with the reason that it was her way of using #Symbolism. Uson was also blasted for posting the misleading information when she dared Vice President Leni Robredo to visit the wake of a cop who was killed in 2016 after Robredo and other senators visited the wake of slain student Kian delos Santos. This led to #FireMocha to trend as netizens called for her resignation from office.

Andanar then explained that as Uson said in her disclaimer on her page, she stated that her posts on her Facebook account Mocha Uson Blog do not reflect PCOO’s views on issues.

“Siya mismo ang nagsabi na ang kanyang Facebook page sa kanya lamang at kung anong sasabihin niya, sariling opinyon at hindi reflective ng PCOO kaya meron siyang disclaimer doon at sabi niya, I duly insist na ganun ‘yung magiging sistema,” Andanar said.

“But then again, there’s also a debate: If you’re a political appointee, do you stop being political? We all know that Asec. Mocha Uson is a staunch supporter who will fight tooth and nail for the President and we have to give her that,” he added.

But Senator Nancy Binay said that it is quite tough to separate Uson’s blogging personality from Uson as a government official.

“Ang hirap i-separate na Mocha na private citizen at Mocha na Asec. How can you, Secretary Andanar, fight fake news kung may mga instances na nanggagaling mismo sa isang Asec? I guess yun yung magiging dilemma,” Binay said.

Sources: ( , )

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