MANILA -- Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) Executive Director Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco fired back at media organizations claiming he is spreading disinformation for his recent remark in a press caravan in Belgium.

In a statement on Sunday, the PTFoMS said Egco only echoed a remark made by a Danish envoy blaming some media outlets for its negative news reportage on the Philippines, particularly those concerning the government.

“Usec. Egco merely echoed the statement of His Excellency Jan Top Christensen, ambassador of Denmark to the Philippines, during the multi-stakeholder consultation for the safety of journalists organized by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication and International Media Support last November,” the statement read. 

“In this event, Ambassador Christensen remarked that some of the media in the Philippines are systematically negative and therefore are not able to present what the government is doing, a practice he attributed to poor compliance with journalism standards,” it added.

The PTFoMS made this comment after both the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) blasted Egco’s presentation at the Press Freedom Caravan held in Brussels, Belgium last week and blamed him for spreading disinformation.

Earlier, NUJP-Europe chair Macel Ingles claimed that Egco said both media groups are responsible for making “[systematically] reporting negative stories about the Philippines”.

However, the PTFoMS belied these claims emphasizing that Danish envoy Christensen was the first to make this remark in November 2018.

The PTFoMS further said that ABS-CBN online even published a report about Christensen’s remark noting that it was not merely a “figment of Usec. Egco's imagination.”

It further said the NUJP report blaming Egco for lack of “due diligence” and merely “focused on the sensational”.

“Macel Ingles, erroneously attributed to Usec. Egco some previous statements from other sources without taking them in the proper context,” the PTFoMS said.

“It considered Usec. Egco’s presentation as an attack on press freedom. It must be pointed out, however, that the report lacked due diligence and focused on the sensational, or at the very least, misappreciated the facts. These acts are considered to be grossly unethical,” it added.

Lack of concern

The PTFoMS, meanwhile, noted that both media groups failed to make concrete feats in terms of improving media workers’ conditions.

“Usec. Egco likewise reiterated the observation of (PTFoMS Chief of Staff Atty. Abraham) Agamata and the entire PTFoMS Secretariat to point out the apparent lack of genuine concern on the part of CMFR and NUJP on matters concerning the safety of journalists, most notably in instances when these groups are not the ones at the helm of such activities,” the PTFoMS said.

Egco is Executive Director of the PTFoMs created through Administrative Order No. 01 which Duterte signed on Oct. 11, 2016 or four months after he took his oath as the country’s 16th President.

According to the PTFoMS, one Secretariat staff member even recalled being rebuffed by a CMFR official when he attempted to furnish a copy of a particular PTFoMS report. CMFR claimed it already had its own data on the matter.

The PTFoMS, meanwhile, pointed out that safeguarding of press freedom is a shared responsibility, trumpeting how Egco and other members of the task force have continued to ensure that protective mechanisms for the benefit of the media workers are put in place.

“Obviously, the CMFR and NUJP do not share this position. They are both quick to jump in on the action, with guns blazing, when it comes to matters that will promote their own interests and portray both groups as the staunchest defenders of press freedom in the Philippines,” the PTFoMS said.

The PTFoMS said both media groups would be “too quick to pass the blame on others” but could not account before the international community for acts that put into question the adherence of their officials and members to ethical standards of journalism.

“This does not bode well for our media workers. Whose sides are these self-styled media groups really on? Who’s behind them?” it added.

On November 2018, Christensen said that there seemed to be a lack of ethical standards and professionalism in the way some media in the country reported news.

He described some media as 'systematically negative' for not being able to present what the government is doing. (PNA)