National News

‘Public Responsibility’: Garin Decries Willful Misrepresentation, Fake News on Franchise Hearing

Photo by Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

“My intentions for raising certain issues I mentioned on Monday during the ABS CBN hearing have been questioned. I have received both praises and flak for my interpellation and I welcome that – that is the price we have to pay as public servants.” Official reaction from Iloilo First District Representative Janette Loreto Garin following social media backlash.  The lady solon was put into the limelight and triggered reactions over her line of questioning in the franchise hearing in Congress.

Yet it was all for the sake of the general public, Congresswoman Garin said amidst seeming pattern of what she said were “willful misrepresentation” of the said network. Her point of questioning, she clarified was on an integral provision of House Bill 4349, the very core of the House probe.

“….Section 4 of House Bill 4349 which seeks to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN is about Responsibility to the Public,” the lady solon said.  “This includes providing at all times sound and balanced programming, assisting in the functions of public information and education and most importantly, not using its stations and facilities for the dissemination of deliberately false information or willful misrepresentation to the detriment of public interest.” The misrepresentation she added, was evident on ABS CBN’s use of non-experts in discussions and coverage of public health and medical issues.

“I am thankful that during the hearing, ABS-CBN acknowledged their use of non-experts causing panic and misinformation. Hopefully they have learned from their mistakes during the psoriasis and dengvaxia issues and in the case of Christine Silawan,” she continued while adding that to date, the issue of willful misrepresentation remains unresolved.

“Out of the many possible issues, I chose to make what happened to me an example so as not to involve anyone else who may not want to be involved.  Sa clip ng TV Patrol, pinagmukha akong nanghingi ng paumanhin sa mga magulang dahil sa bakuna. Ito po ay kumalat na rin sa internet, nagtrending at may mga nanghihingi ng resignation ko dahil sa video na ito. Ngunit ang actual interview na iyon ay nangyari sa DZMM. Pinutol lamang ng TV Patrol ang sinabi ko para sa hindi malamang kadahilanan,” Congresswoman Garin explained.

In a recording and transcript of the interview, clear was the part where her reply was taken out of context.

“This is an example of blatant disregard for the essence of what an interviewee said,” she said.  “Ito yung sinasabi nating willfull misrepresentation. Upang makulayan o madagdagan ang istorya, pinipili o pinuputol lamang ang ibang impormasyon. Iba tuloy ang dumarating na balita sa ating mga kababayan. Matindi ang epekto sa vaccination when doctors were painted as murderers with the series of featured deaths like in the segment Disgrasya sa Dengvaxia. This happened only in the Philippines and only ABSCBN carried that. May mga live coverage pa ng autopsies na hindi naman nararapat dahil sa mas nakakatakot nitong epekto sa mga taong nandoon na maaring na-expose sa virus, bacteria o anumang sakit.”

“Let me be clear about this, this is not about me. This is about doctors, scientists, experts and public health servants demonized to the point where it broke their hearts, souls and will to serve. They were merely doing their jobs: making medically sound decisions for the benefit of public health, scientifically weighing the costs versus risks of a breakthrough vaccine and ultimately deciding to save lives than do nothing and lose more,” her official statement continued.  “This is not about vindictiveness. This is about fake news and its impact on public health. Vaccine scare is not new. It happened with measles, MMR, tetanus toxoid, cervical cancer vaccine and many others. This can happen again and powerful networks should be aware of such tactics.  This is one of the reasons why vaccine confidence in the country went down and public health was ruined.” Congresswoman Garin stressed further that her intent was towards protecting the public from similar willful misrepresentation.

“We don’t want this to happen to others: where the power of ABS-CBN is used by a few for their own vested interests and a well-organized campaign and strategy of anti-vaxxers masked behind the title “public health experts.” With this, I suggest ABS-CBN apologizes to the doctors and scientists tagged as murderers, to the parents who were unnecessarily alarmed, to the families of those whose death have been played with and the media personnel exposed to hazardous exhumation of bodies,” she said. “As a large network having the opportunity to reach many Filipinos here and abroad, ABS-CBN has to practice responsible journalism and be truthful at all times. ABS-CBN’s power and reach is a very important tool for health advocacies. This is why I hope the network will impose internal changes that would curtail impunity within their ranks, put in place a grievance mechanism, run a tighter check and review on their anchors and newspeople in the News and Current Affairs division and truly become of service to the Filipino people by providing sound and balanced news to every Filipino household in the future if their franchise gets renewed.”


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