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Duterte orders ‘positive messages’ on virus response

PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered the state’s news agency to report that the country was performing better than other countries in its coronavirus pandemic response, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) said on Wednesday.

“There is a memo directing us to give updates on world data regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) and to convey that we are faring better than other countries,” Virginia Arcilla-Agtay, a PCOO news director, said in a statement.

The memo was in keeping with the President’s order  to provide adequate information and convey working policies about the government’s pandemic response efforts, she said.

“The President’s directive is to convey these positive messages to the people and these favorable news as part of our good governance outcomes,” Ms. Arcilla-Agtay said.

“Rather than to 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 added.

A leaked copy of the memo said all government media platforms should “carry 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.”

“There is nothing wrong with this, nor is it a lie, it is simply amplifying facts,” Ms. Arcilla-Agtay said.

The coronavirus reproduction rate in the Philippines had dropped to 0.85, while the infection rate fell to 18% from the 22%, she said, citing data from the OCTA Research Group. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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