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Oops, Vietnam photo used in Marawi story

In its May 27 report titled “Urban warfare a challenge for soldiers in Marawi,” the PNA used an uncaptioned photo of a soldier seemingly investigating a house while residents looked on. File

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine News Agency (PNA) and Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson have posted wrong photos to depict the military offensive in Marawi City.

In its May 27 report titled “Urban warfare a challenge for soldiers in Marawi,” the PNA used an uncaptioned photo of a soldier seemingly investigating a house while residents looked on.

Later reports noted the photo was not taken in Marawi City, but rather a cropped version of a photo of Vietnamese soldiers uploaded in Wikimedia Commons.

The photo has since been taken down from the PNA page.

On Monday, Uson shared an image of kneeling soldiers with the caption, “Let’s pray for our army. Panalangin din po natin ang mga pamilyang naiwan at nababahala sa kalagayan ng kanilang asawa at tatay.”

However, netizens quickly pointed out the image was not taken in the Philippines but in Honduras.

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Twitter account @AltTeamAFP posted a side-by-side of Uson’s post and the original article from Honduras.

“Tell your followers and yourself that we have enough photos of our soldiers praying. No need to use Honduras police’s. Shame!” added the Twitter account.

The PNA yesterday apologized over the errors in the two articles.

“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 the state news agency.

“We regret that these mistakes have cast doubt on our integrity as a news agency. 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,” it added.

Earlier, the PNA was criticized after it misreported the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of a Philippine human rights situation before the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Quoting Interior and Local Government Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III, the news agency claimed that 95 nations were convinced that no extrajudicial killings happened in the Philippines.

Densing denied making such a statement, prompting the PNA to update its story.

“As soon as we learned of the error, we held the May 15 report and interviewed Asec. Densing so we could issue an accurate report thus, the story titled, ‘PHL’s human rights situation commended at UPR’,” the PNA said.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar however refused to face members of the Malacañang media when sought for comment on the issues pertaining to the PNA snafu.

Andanar has jurisdiction over PNA and Uson as head of the PCOO.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella earlier said the matter of erroneous photos released by Uson and the PNA should be directed to Andanar.

The snafu came even as Abella earlier appealed to the public to double check information posted by individuals on social media to avoid unnecessary panic and concern over the fighting in Marawi.

Fake news and erroneous

Former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Loretta Ann Rosales denied an online post that made her appear to be supporting the Maute terrorist group.

“I am denouncing those responsible for spreading this malicious information saying I sympathize and take pity on the Maute group. This is fake and malicious news,” Rosales said in a statement.

“I am no longer the CHR chairperson. I have always denounced terrorism and I denounce the actions of the Maute group against the people of Marawi,” she added.

Journalist Mike Navallo, who took the photo of Rosales that was used in the viral post, said the image was taken weeks before the clashes in Marawi City erupted last week.

Meanwhile, the University of the Philippines denied circulating posts claiming that Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon was a graduate of the UP College of Engineering.

Citing records from the UP Office of Alumni Relations, the UP Diliman Office of the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs said on its Facebook page that Hapilon never studied or graduated from UP.

The profile of Hapilon on the website of the Federal Bureau of Investigation claimed that the terrorist was a graduate of the “UP School of Engineering.” 

Even the Duterte administration was not spared from the fakery.

This became apparent in the martial law report submitted to Congress containing erroneous information on some of the incidents that happened in Marawi City that led to the declaration of martial law in Mindanao last week.

Several inconsistencies were discovered by The STAR when it verified the contents of the report submitted by the government to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez shortly before 10 p.m. on May 25.

This despite the earlier instruction of President Duterte to the Cabinet to be factual and truthful in drafting the report submitted to Congress. – With Christina Mendez

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