MANILA, Philippines – The embattled Philippine News Agency (PNA) vowed to review its procedures to ensure that there will be no repeat of the use of a "fake" photo of the Marawi clashes in one of its articles.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, however, was on the defensive when it came to the wrong photo she shared on her Facebook page.
In a statement, the PNA said, "Rest assured we have dealt with our erring personnel and that we are reviewing our procedures on reportage as we continue to uphold our commitment to deliver accurate and balanced news reports to the Filipino people and the world."
On Monday, the PNA, the Philippine government's official news agency, used a photo of a soldier on patrol for its report titled, “Urban warfare a challenge for soldiers in Marawi.”
Netizens soon pointed out that the photo was not taken in Marawi City but sourced from Wikimedia Commons. The photo shows a soldier during the Vietnam War, not Filipino soldiers in Marawi.
"Upon learning of the error, we immediately took the photo down but not before it was shared by our readers and subscribers," said the PNA.
The PNA also admitted its error in misquoting Interior Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III on the Philippines' report on the United Nations Universial Periodic Review. After speaking to Densing, PNA eventually edited its story.
The PNA maintained that it never intended to spread "fake news."
"While there have been lapses in our judgment, it has never been the policy of PNA to tolerate erroneous report, and it has certainly never been our intention to sow misinformation, much less share what is termed nowadays as “fake news," said PNA.
"We regret that these mistakes have cast doubt on our integrity as a news agency," the agency added.
Uson, PCOO Assistant Secretary for Social Media, was on the defensive about the wrong photo she shared on her Facebook page.
She countered that she was not in the wrong for sharing CineEmotion Digital Film's photo of Honduras police for a post calling for prayers for the Philippine Army.
Uson said she never explicitly labeled the photo as that of Filipino soldiers and that the Honduras photo was used as "symbolism."
"Pls naman gamit naman ng COMMON SENSE. Wag mema lang...Ang caption ko lang ay ipanalangin natin ang ating mga sundalo. Hindi ko sinabi sundalo natin 'yan," she said in her Facebook post.
(Please use common sense. My caption was, let's pray for our soldiers. I didn't say those are our soldiers.)
She has not responded to Rappler's request for an official statement as of writing.
Palace media also asked Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on Tuesday for a statement on the series of wrong posts since he supervises both the PNA and Uson. Andanar, however, refused to face reporters. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.