The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) will “multiply” efforts to boost its information drive in the country after the Department of Health (DOH) reported a total of 20 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) as of Monday afternoon.
PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar made this remark after Senator Nancy Binay called on the government’s lead communications arm to “elevate the ante in risk communication” instead of spending time conducting roadshows across Europe.
He assured Binay that his agency will be submitting a departmental report on communication initiatives being undertaken to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
“We assure the good senator that the PCOO is coordinating with the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) members since day one and we will forward a departmental report to the office of the senator,” he said in a Laging Handa press briefing in Malacañang on Monday.
Even before the first reported case of local transmission, Andanar said PCOO’s attached agencies have been working 24/7 with key departments and the IATF in providing regular updates disseminated across all media.
Upon President Rodrigo Duterte’s instruction, he said regular updates, news and public service announcements in relation to Covid-19 have been aired on government broadcast stations, print and online platforms.
From January to February, he said the PCOO has made approximately 70 informational videos, more than 5 radio plugs, more than 1,250 social cards, and approximately 20 infographics on the covid-2019.
He said the PCOO’s attached agencies have also provided more than 750 online news articles, more than 400 broadcast news items, close to 30 news articles which saw print, more than 500 situational reports, more than 450 text blasts, more than 280 tweets, more than 70 radio live interviews, approximately 350 flyers in English and 350 flyers in Filipino about the coronavirus.
The PCOO has also regularly conducted Laging Handa press briefings, more than 25 regional and provincial press briefings, close to 15 TV and radio guestings, and 44 regional interagency meetings, and one strategic communication workshop, among other efforts, he said.
He said the PCOO conducted 34 livestream media coverages and two exclusive coverages, including the repatriation of Filipinos from Wuhan and MV Diamond Princess.
He, however, admitted that “much more needs to be done” in reaching out the public after the Department of Health (DOH) placed the country under Covid-19 Alert System to Code Red Sub-Level 1 to prepare national and local governments and the country’s health care providers for possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases of the disease.
“We will give a strong and united message, in coordination with IATF members, and ensure to double if not multiply our interventions for the needed information of the public,” he said.
He urged the public to “stop spreading rumors” that could misinform and cause panic to the people and instead focus on efforts to address the public health emergency.
He also called on the public to end the stigma against any nationality or race.
As part of efforts to boost its information campaign, the PCOO also sought help from the country’s biggest media organization, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), to urge its members to broadcast only DOH-approved updates and infomercials in relation to Covid-19.
“Our objective is to prevent disinformation. We agreed that the information broadcasted by members of the KBP will only come from the DOH,” KBP President Ruperto S. Nicdao, Jr. said in Filipino in a separate press briefing.
KBP Chairman Herman Basbaño also vowed to utilize all KBP’s facilities to help the information drive to minimize the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
According to its website, KBP is a non-government, non-profit organization of the broadcast media in the Philippines composed of over 1,000 radio and TV stations.
Currently, there are 10 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and 41 patients under investigation (PUI) who are currently admitted to hospitals.
President Rodrigo Duterte has issued a proclamation declaring a state of public health emergency throughout the Philippines after the health department reported the first known local transmission of the deadly disease. (PNA)