NBI sees sabotage in PNA ‘glitch’, zeroes in on suspect, says ‘troubleshooter’


THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is zeroing in on a suspect allegedly responsible for sabotaging the website of the Philippine News Agency (PNA), a “troubleshooter” hired by the government-run news site said on Wednesday.

“It was not a glitch. The suspect intentionally uploaded it to bring havoc. We will make sure he will be sanctioned and that proper criminal charges will be filed against him,” Joel Sy Egco told a forum in Malate, Manila.

The “havoc” Egco referred to was the uploading of “confidential information” on the PNA site last Sept. 8 that was meant only for the “editors’ eyes” such as notes or instructions for the previous months on how to angle or treat news.

Although he did not name the suspect, Egco described him as a veteran news reporter who seemed unhappy with the changes that were being implemented by the Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO), which has jurisdiction over PNA. Communications Secretary Martin Andanar heads the PCOO.

Egco said the IP (Internet Protocol) address has been traced to a computer in Pasay City.

Egco, a former newspaperman, said he also sought the help of the Department of Information, Communications and Technology (DICT) to provide information on how the website could be manipulated.

Editors of PNA have access to the website to allow them to edit, post, or take down news articles.

Egco said the PCOO was considering filing charges against the suspect in violation of the Cybercrime law.

The recent posts about the confidential instructions were not the first known blunders of the PNA.

In recent months, the PNA has figured in several incidents involving embarrassing posts like:

* the use of a pineapple juice company’s logo as a thumbnail of a news story about the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE);

* uploading an editorial from the Chinese state-run Xinhua news service that criticized the ruling of an international tribunal on the maritime dispute in the South China Sea;

* using a picture from the Vietnam War to accompany a story about military operations in Mindanao;

* coming out with an “inaccurate report about (Interior and Local Government) Assistant Secretary Densing”;

* and uploading a story which reported that 93 countries believe that there are no extrajudicial killings or summary executions in the Philippines.

The PNA website was started in 2003 but the government news agency itself became operational in 1973.

At present, PNA has 14 reporters and 10 editors.

A new PNA will be launched on Oct. 1 in a multi-media telecast that will include internet-based news dissemination. JIM PILAPIL


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