Abella on PNA ‘fake news’: Don’t look at me, talk to Andanar

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Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella (PCOO file photo)

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella declined to respond Tuesday to questions about the posting of fake news content on the state-run Philippine News Agency, saying inquiries should be addressed to Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, whose office oversees government media outlets.

Abella then explained the flow of information contained in the statements coming from him and his office.

In the case of the Marawi crisis, he said, “the process is actually that the military on the ground gathers the news and sends it to AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) here (in Metro Manila) and then AFP provides the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson the news, and then it goes out.”

“That should be the flow,” he added.

Abella was asked about the PNA after the news agency on Monday used a photo from the Vietnam War to illustrate an article on the house to house fighting in Marawi. The photo has since been pulled out but no explanation has been given.

And earlier this month, it also came under fire for falsely reporting that 95 United Nations member-states believed extrajudicial killings are non-existent in the Philippines. PNA took down the original story and replaced it with an amended, albeit still inaccurate, report, again with no explanation or apology.