"It is not our policy to red-tag any organization," Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said during the House budget hearing for Presidential Communications Operations Office.
PPD, File
PCOO denies red-tagging progressive groups on PNA articles
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - September 6, 2019 - 4:24pm

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar clarified that it is not the policy of his office to red-tag progressive groups.

During the House hearing on the PCOO budget for 2020, Rep. France Castro (ACT Teachers Party-list) called out state-run Philippine News Agency for its "vilifying" articles against progressive groups and party-lists.

"Ito po ba ay official na policy ng PNA, halimbawa, itong mga nakikita nating red-tagging na ito at parang isang side lang ang pinakikita?" Castro asked the PCOO chair.

(Is it the official policy of PNA, for example, these articles that appear to be red-tagging and only shows one side?)

In response to Castro, Andanar said the PCOO, along with all media agencies of the government, do its best to be objective as possible in reporting.

"It is not our policy to red-tag any organization," Andanar said.

News and Information Bureau Director and PNA chief Virginia Arcilla-Agtay added that the PNA's mandate is to produce information about the government and pointed out that the agency does not mediate from its mandate.

On Castro's question about articles that "vilify" progressive quotes, Agtay said the PNA is just generating quotes and statements from its sources.

The lawmaker cited the PNA articles on the filing of charges against her, former Rep. Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) and their companions for allegedly trafficking children in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

Castro stressed that there was no evidence on the allegations of kidnapping and trafficking against her and her companions.

The PNA chief, however, noted that her agency is also part of a national task force (NTF) to end communist insurgency.

"Since this is a while of nation approach and being a member of the cluster of the NTF, we are part of the strat comm. There is no opinion included in those articles," Agtay told the House panel.

During the budget hearing of the Department of National Defense last week, Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna Party-list) also called out the government's supposed "villification campaign" agaisnt progressive groups.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, on the other hand, challenged left-leaning party-list groups to condemn the actions of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing New People's Army.

"You do not condemn the killings, atrocities of the CPP-NPA. When they burn equipment, you are silent. How can we now dissociate you from this group when you keep quiet," Lorenzana told Zarate.

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