Red-tagging not policy of PCOO, attached agencies: Andanar

MANILA The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) on Friday assured lawmakers that it is not the policy of the department, nor any of its attached agencies and offices, to red-tag any progressive organization or party-list group.

The assurance was made by Communications Secretary Martin Andanar and News and Information Bureau (NIB) Director Virginia Arcilla-Agtay during the budget presentation of the PCOO's proposed 2020 budget before the House Committee on Appropriations.

The issue on red-tagging was brought up by ACT-Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro and Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas who manifested that their groups were victims of supposedly unfair and one-sided reporting from the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The PNA is a division of NIB, which is under the PCOO.

Castro asked if it is the official policy of the PNA and the PCOO to vilify and "make illegal" leftists like them.

In response, Agtay said the PNA is a wire agency whose mandate is to produce news and information materials about the government, its programs and its impact on the people, and the Presidency.

She said the PNA does not deviate from this mandate.

Tungkol sa mga storya na sinsabi nyo na lumalabas na (Regarding the stories that you cited, which supposedly) that vilifies groups that you belong to, we are just narrating the quotes, the statements of our sources, she said.

Walang opinion po na mga nasasaad dun sa mga articles (There were no opinions proffered in the articles). These are all quotes from the sources of the government, Agtay said.

Andanar also affirmed that red-tagging is not a policy of the PCOO.

It is not our policy to red-tag any organization. As mentioned by the director of the NIB, we do our best and I point out to all the media agencies of the government to be as objective as possible, to report both sides, he told the lawmakers.

Whether you are with the government or you are with the opposition, or you have a story that is of public interest, kailangan po talaga patas (there should be balance). Pero hindi po policy ng PCOO ang mag red-tag (But it is not the policy of the PCOO to red-tag), Andanar said.

Castro noted that she was not being interviewed by government reporters on the issues involving her.

The representative of ACT-Teachers party-list is more than welcome to have her own program on PTV (People's Television Network), Radyo Pilipinas or any of our platforms, as the President did mention during the opening of PTV-Cordillera, Andanar said.

Meanwhile, Brosas cited a story published in the PNA website about a supposed failed fact-finding mission that she and her group undertook in Isabela.

Brosas contended that the caption's content, and the accompanying photo, was contrary to what really transpired and that Gabriela was unfairly vilified and red-tagged in the said article.

Again, we assure the congresswoman of Gabriela that it is not our policy to red-tag, especially in our media platforms, Andanar said.

Agtay, meanwhile, reiterated that the photo and article came from a legitimate source, like all other agencies and groups that provide the PNA with documentation of their activities and the like.

She also assured the lawmakers that the PNA is always open for any clarifications or comments on articles that the agency publishes on its website.

You could always call us, our phone number is on the website. Ie-entertain po namin (We will entertain you), she said.

Meron kayong gustong i-clarify, at kung anuman, may sama ng loob, pwede po kayong tumawag. Open ang communication line ng PNA para dun sa mga may mga sentiments on whatever that is published (If you want to clarify something, or are dissatisfied, or anything else, you can call us. The communication line of PNA is open for anyone who has any sentiment to whatever that is published), she added. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency