Andanar to bloggers: Follow journalists’ code of ethics

By Christina Mendez

MANILA, Philippines - Social media users, including bloggers, who may want to be accredited by Malacañang are requested to abide by the journalist’s code of ethics, Communications Sec. Martin Andanar said yesterday.

Andanar made the statement after he explained the provisions of Presidential Communications and Operations Office’s (PCOO) Department Order (DO) No. 15 or the Interim Social Media Practitioner Accreditation that opens the gates of Malacañang to social media people, who must be at least 18 years old and a Filipino who maintains a social media platform with 5,000 users.

In a radio interview, Andanar pointed out that the mainstream media – who come from traditional newspapers, television and radio networks, as well as online news sites – are different from social media bloggers.

“Again, they are not there as journalist(s). We regard the journalists as professionals, but we will encourage them to observe journalism ethics,” he said, referring to social media platform users and members of the Malacañang Press Corps.

“Now, well, of course, what is basic is the right information, basic information such as when, where, what, who, how… those are the basics – as I said, (if their report) is terribly wrong, then their applications will be in jeopardy,” Andanar said.

Andanar was thrust into the spotlight anew after some members of the Malacañang Press Corps raised concerns over the possible bias which the PCOO may give to the social media bloggers, many of whom were identified as supporters of President Duterte during the last elections.

Andanar signed the DO last Tuesday, following concerns on the coverage of bloggers and Facebook account users of the events at the 50th founding anniversary celebration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the meeting of foreign ministers on Aug. 2-8.

Andanar said the social media users were tapped not as journalists but as individual bloggers about the events of the President. Both critics and supporters of the President can apply for accreditation.

“Bloggers or the social media practitioners are given accreditation not as journalist(s), not as members of mainstream media and not as Malacañang Press Corps,” he said.

“If they apply, whether pro-Digong, whether yellow or whether you are apolitical, or just a mere political observer, you are all welcome,” he said.

The PCOO, according to Andanar, will review if applicants’ past blogs and write-ups are consistent with the present.

“So we don’t discriminate in terms of political color, political leaning,” he said.

The other day, Communications Assistant Secretary for Policy and Legislative Affairs Kris Ablan said the use of foul language is not considered in Malacanang’s plan to accredit social media users.

“We’ll leave it to SMO headed by Assistant Secretary (Mocha) Uson, to decide on that,” Ablan said, referring to the Social Media Office, in a press briefing where he was grilled over how the agency would implement the policy vis-à-vis the coverage of the mainstream media.

The SMO was created last month under PCOO DO No. 13.

“I have brought up with the office of Asec. Uson in the accreditation process that they will sign some kind of terms and conditions and maybe – although it’s not the policy – it might be in the terms and conditions that they should not use profanity. But that’s still up to her,” Ablan explained.

Ablan also discussed the reasons when the agency may revoke the accreditation given to social media individuals who might abuse their authority.

Ablan cited Section 6, which provides that accreditation “may only be withdrawn, cancelled or suspended for any of the following: abuse of rights and privileges extended by the PCOO and putting his or her accreditation to improper use.”

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