Sen. Leila M. de Lima today said the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) should be held accountable for disseminating fake news that claim that 95 out of 105 nations agree there were no extrajudicial killings in the country.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 405, De Lima urged the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media to look into the agency’s recent lapses and enable it to be a more independent and responsible state-run news agency.
“The PNA must be responsible in ensuring that information it shares with the public is accurate and duly verified. Our people need to know why such lapses happened, and if these are mere errors, or if they were a part of a sinister strategy, if any, to mislead and deceive the public,” she said.
The PNA came under fire after it reported that 95 nations in the 27th Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council were convinced that there were no extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. The said report was later on rebutted, forcing PNA to issue a public apology.
The agency also drew flaks for reporting on the challenges of soldiers in the Marawi siege, using a photo taken in Vietnam from Wikimedia Commons, a free-for-all media repository of digital images.
De Lima, a former justice secretary, said she believes that accountability must be exacted from the PNA, adding that her call for a Senate investigation s also to help them in improving their vetting process as a news agency.
“While it regretted these mistakes that have created doubts on its integrity, PNA should be held accountable for its mistakes and lapses, and not allow itself to become a willing instrument in peddling misinformation,” she said.
“To be true to its mandate, PNA should be transformed into a shepherd of correct and accurate information to the public, and not be used for political propaganda,” she added.
De Lima said the PNA should not succumb to becoming another “fake news” machinery, but instead should be an independent news organization that is committed to becoming a reliable source of truth for the public.
Last January, De Lima delivered a privilege speech to bewail the propagation of fake news allegedly propagated by supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte to harass her and malign her good reputation.