The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) does not see anything wrong with giving the public information that the Philippines is doing better than other countries in the fight against coronavirus disease (COVID-19), saying these data were facts anyway.
PCOO Integrated News Team Director Virginia Arcilla-Agtay made the statement after the PCOO faced criticisms over a leaked memorandum about a directive for them to carry out regular updates about the world data on COVID-19, specifically to convey to the public that the Philippines is faring better than many countries in addressing the pandemic.
In her statement, Agtay confirmed the existence of the memorandum and said there was nothing wrong with President Duterte’s directive to the PCOO.
“The President has given the instruction in order to provide adequate information and convey working policies, particularly those that aim to address the effects of the pandemic in the country,” she said.
“There is nothing wrong with this, nor is it a lie, it is simply amplifying facts,” she added.
Agtay, in her statement, said regionally and globally, the Philippines has achieved a reputable and efficient response to the virus as compared to some developed, more advanced, and less densely-populated countries. She proceeded to enumerate the following developments in the Philippines:
- The reproduction rate in the National Capital Region (NCR) dropping to 0.85 and the positivity rate sliding down to 18 percent according to the UP-OCTA research group.
- Ranking 4th among 10 ASEAN countries in terms of vaccination according to Bloomberg.
- A low daily confirmed COVID-19 cases at 78.8 per one million population based on Johns Hopkins University CSSE COVID-19 data for April 27.
- Landing on the 28th spot out of more than 200 countries and territories in terms of COVID-19 tests conducted according to Worldometers.
- Placing 116th in terms of COVID-19 mortality per 1 million people.
- Vaccinating more than one percent of the population with 1,809,801 doses of vaccines administered as of April 27.
According to Agtay, Duterte’s directive aimed to “convey these positive messages to the people and these favorable news” as part of the country’s good governance outcomes.
She said these were the products of efficient methods, programs, and undertakings that Filipinos “should take pride in” and something that the people should see as a “result of the government’s tireless efforts.”
“Rather than proliferate fear, uncertainty, disinformation, and fake news, we want people to put their trust and to work with the government in fighting COVID-19,” she said.
“Government communication involves not only sending out messages to the public, but also explaining working policies, and creating awareness,” she added.
Agtay said that the data she enumerated were yet to be fully reported by the government media.
“There is a vast source of information from legitimate research groups available on the worldwide web,” she said.
“These are the sources that government media intend to include in its list of story references, aside from local COVID-19 data, to give Filipinos a better and wider perspective of the real COVID-19 situation in our country,” she added.
“We have been actively promoting different communications campaigns on vaccination, quarantine measures, and other COVID-19-related responses, and we will continue to deliver positive, informative, and, most especially, factual information on our current state in our road to recovery from this pandemic,” she said.