The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) expressed outrage over efforts by the Philippine Information Agency’s Negros Occidental (PIA-NO) office to act as public relations arm of senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.
In a statement, the NUJP accused PIA-NO provincial information center Lorenzo Lambatin Jr. of insulting local journalists by sending them “suggested questions” to Go who was expected in Bacolod on Saturday, October 27, with President Rodrigo duterte for the city’s annual Masskara Festival.
“Since when have the duties of the PIA included being a public relations arm for political candidates and, as the second question clearly acknowledges, a private citizen ‘no longer with the government?’” the NUJP asked.
Lambatin reportedly sent the following “suggested questions” to the journalists Saturday afternoon:
- Sir message ninyo sa mga taga-Bacolod and sa Masskara event?”
- What makes you busy now that you are no longer with the government?
- Sir,baket ka tumakbo bilang senador?
- Sir,tell us about Malasakit Centers?
- Sir what would be your legislative agenda, sakaling palarin kang manalo bilang senador?
Go filed his certificate of candidacy for next year’s national elections earlier this month and has resigned as “special assistant to the President,” a unique Cabinet position created for the long-time assistant to Duterte.
NUJP reminded Lambatin that PIA’s mandate is “to disseminate information about government programs, projects, and services to the Filipino public, with the final goal of seeing the quality of their lives improved and empowered to participate in the country’s democratic processes.”
For using the PIA to benefit a private citizen, the NUJP called on PIA Director-General Harold Clavite to immediately conduct an investigation into this matter and make the findings public.
The journalists group added Lambatin owes the Negros media an apology for the affront and should explain who ordered the use of his office to promote Go’s candidacy.
Lambatin has yet to respond to NUJP’s statement issued Sunday. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)