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NBI asked to probe PNA ‘glitch’

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 9/13/2017 Kaufman, Karl
Philippine News Agency (PNA) logo © screen shot PNA Facebook account Philippine News Agency (PNA) logo

A Malacañang official has asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the possibility that the website of the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) has been sabotaged following the recent spate of bloopers.

In a letter to NBI Director Dante Gierran on Monday, Presidential Task Force on Media Security executive director Joel Sy Egco found it "alarming" and "humiliating" that screencaps of old PNA articles from January 1 to April 24, 2017 with editor's notes in the titles circulated on the Internet.

"Internal investigation showed that the stories in question were not even approved for posting by editors and were returned to reporters with corresponding comments for rewriting," Egco said.

"For some reason, we suspect the posting of unwanted stories to have been manipulated by person(s) who have access to the 'coding' of the old database. It was done in such a selective manner that only stories with editors' comments were posted, obviously to besmirch the state-run news agency and the PCOO," he added, referring to the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

While the PNA does not discount the possibility of a system glitch, Egco said "it is just puzzling why other unapproved stories remained in the old database and did not see posting in the old website."

Egco, the supervising undersecretary for the PNA, surmised that a male PNA employee whom he refused to identify could be behind the recent gaffes.

He said someone with an IP (Internet Protocol) address traced to a computer in Pasay City attempted to access its new News Gathering System (NGS) on September 9.

The PNA has been under fire for its series of erroneous posts this year.

In May, the PNA posted a news item stating that the Philippines was commended for its improved human rights situation by 95 out of 105 nations at the United Nations' Human Right Council during its universal periodic review, where in fact more than 40 countries expressed alarm over the rise in extrajudicial killings in the country.

Also in May, the state news agency posted an article on the Marawi City conflict using a photo from the Vietnam war. 

In August, PNA became the center of public scrutiny when it posted Xinhua News Agency's commentary on South China Sea, which called the ruling of The Hague favoring the Philippines' case against China as an “ill-founded award.”

A few days after, PNA used Dole Philippines’ logo instead of the Department of Labor and Employment’s in a story about pay rules.

The series of gaffes prompted Presidential Communications Operations Office Sec. Martin Andanar to create an editorial board to ensure the quality of PNA stories. —KBK, GMA News

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