Andanar takes over govt news agency

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Palace communications chief Martin Andanar will take over as the editor-in-chief of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) amid a series faux pax of the state-run news agency.

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Andanar’s assumption of the post would happen just days after the PNA published a story on the Department of Labor of Employment (DoLE) that used the logo of Dole Philippines, one of the largest producers and sellers of fruits, mainly pineapple.

The DoLE incident came after the PNA published a story culled from Chinese government-run Xinhua news agency calling the July 2016 United Nations court ruling, which outlawed China’s aggression against Filipino fishermen and reclamation projects in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), as ill-founded.

Aside from Andanar, the other members of the PNA Editorial Board would now include: Joel Sy Egco, former editor and chief of reporters of The Manila Times; Assistant Secretary Joseph Lawrence Garcia; current PNA chief Virginia Arcilla-Agtay; consultant Albert Gamboa; and PNA Acting Executive Editor Louie Morente.

“We will do what is necessary to improve our services. The people expect proficiency, nothing less,” Andanar said in a statement.

He earlier proposed that erring PNA personnel be sent to Basilan or Sulu.

Terrorist groups operate in the two provinces in southern Mindanao.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier drew flak by proposing to send police officials involved in the illegal drug trade and other forms of corruption to war-torn Marawi City in Lanao del Sur, which has been under siege by the terrorist Maute Group since May 23.

This proposal drew sharp criticisms even among the ranks of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and lawmakers allied with the President.

But on Monday, Andanar did not mention about reassigning erring PNA people to Mindanao and instead assured the public that the PNA personnel concerned for the erroneous posting of the Dole Philippines logo and the Xinhua news faux pas were summoned to explain their recent failures.

“The public expects the highest standards of professionalism from them. Due diligence and propriety are a must at all times for the news organization,” he said.

Andanar disclosed that he has directed his legal officers to determine the culpability of the PNA officials concerned.

In a separate news conference, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella clarified that the Duterte administration holds Mindanao in high esteem.

“The President has deep and great respect for Mindanao and its people,” Abella said.

“If at all there seems to be any implication about hardship, then it’s not about Mindanao or Mindanaoans, it is simply about… it is simply about certain difficulties in the region at this stage,” he added.

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