PIA mobilized to counter disinformation on West Philippine Sea dispute

MACTAN, Cebu (PIA) — Information center managers of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in the Visayas were given marching orders to double their efforts in spreading relevant, fact-based information surrounding the nation’s claims to the West Philippine Sea.

“We have an obligation to tell the Filipino people the truth about what is happening in the West Philippine Sea. Each of us has a stake. We have a right to know,” Commodore Jay Tarriela, spokesperson of the Philippine Coast Guard for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), told PIA information officers who gathered in Lapu-Lapu City this week.

Lapu-Lapu City was selected as the venue of the Visayas leg of the strategic communications planning workshop of the PIA and the NTF-WPS as it perfectly symbolizes the nation’s fight for sovereignty when Cebuano warriors successfully repelled foreign invaders on the shores of Mactan Island.

Tarriela said the Coast Guard partnered with PIA to reach a broader and more diverse audience, especially in rural communities that are no longer reached by traditional TV signals but still have access to transistor radios and cell phones to get information.

A participant from PIA Region 6 shared during an open forum the reaction of a college student toward the WPS issue. (Photo: PIA Southern Leyte)
Commodore Jay Tarriela, Philippine Coast Guard Spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, gave a lecture on the current initiatives taken by the government to enlighten the general public on pressing issues concerning the West Philippine Sea. (Photo courtesy of Adolfo Ares P. Gutierrez, PIA Deputy Director General)

“China has stepped up its misinformation campaign; that is why we tied up with PIA. Our stories are founded on truth. We never make up stories—we back these up with images and videos,” Tarriela emphasized in his discussion on the Philippines’ measured transparency strategy.

He said the transparency strategy began in February last year when former General Eduardo Año became the National Security Adviser.

“We started publishing aggressive actions by China. To oppose, we need to expose,” Tarriela declared, adding that with this countermeasure, more Filipinos now appreciate the government’s efforts.

PIA Director-General Jose A. Torres Jr. stressed that everyone is affected by the West Philippine Sea (WPS) because the area is very much a part of Philippine territory.

Hindi puwedeng hindi tayo makialam sa ating teritoryo. Kumbinsihin natin mga kapitbahay, tindero, tindera, ang komunidad na magkaroon ng lakas ng loob na i-claim yung atin,” Torres said.

(We should get involved. Let us convince our neighbors, storekeepers, and the community to courageously claim what is ours.)

During his opening remarks, Director General Jose Torres Jr. of the Philippine Information Agency emphasized the importance of reminding people that the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is an integral part of Philippine territory and a national treasure. He urged Filipinos to unite and take a firm stance on this matter. (Photo: PIA Eastern Visayas)

During an open forum, one of the participants shared a college student’s comment that there are more pressing issues, such as high food prices and hunger, that should be prioritized over the WPS issue. In response, Tarriela emphasized that the WPS issue is also important. .

It is a disconnect. Many of our national heroes have died defending the country. Bansa ang pinag-uusapan natin dito, hindi ang pangangailangan ng individual need,” Tarriela said.

(It is a disconnect. Many of our national heroes have died defending the country. We are talking about the collective welfare of the country, not individual needs.) (MMP, PIA Southern Leyte)

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