On July 31, 2012, the Philippine Daily Inquirer published the article “Stranded? Get a Twitter account, says Lacierda.” On July 31, 2012, and August 1, 2012, respectively, the Manila Times published the articles “Palace twits Metro Manilans for missing Twitter updates” and “No Twitter Account? Get fax machines.” These articles suggested that Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda made statements to the media claiming the public is to be blamed for not receiving timely weather updates from Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration [PAGASA] because they are only available through following the PAGASA Twitter account.
We are reproducing, for the record, an excerpt from the transcript of the press briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on July 30, 2012, on the topic of weather updates and social media.
This transcript will bear out that Spokesperson Lacierda in no way blames the public for not receiving updates through Twitter, or claims that Twitter is the sole medium through which PAGASA delivers its updates on current weather conditions. The record provided below will show that his statements advocate the use of social media in the context of continued cooperation with media partners, and their dissemination of this information to the public through both new and traditional media channels.
For more details, please see the statement of Secretary Edwin Lacierda on government’s communication advocacies made on July 31, 2012.
Excerpt of the Press briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda:
On government advisories issued during tropical storm Gener
[2F Briefing Room, New Executive Building, Malacañang, Manila, on July 30, 2012]
[Excerpt 1 from 0:41 to 5:52]
Q: Sir, don’t you have any plans for administrative reasons to at least ask the PAGASA to explain themselves why they weren’t able to forecast ‘yung sudden shallow low pressure area last night na kung saan marami—and, based on my personal experience, ‘yung hindi inasahan kasi we were thinking or we’re advised yesterday of the rains brought about by ‘Gener’ and then sudden surges of this LPA [low-pressure area]?
SECRETARY EDWIN LACIERDA: Bombo, we asked clarification from the PAGASA and we asked for a timeline also. And these weather forecasts are also transmitted to NDRRMC [National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council]. NDRRMC and also PAGASA have been informing the public. We have the timeline and I assume that you also have one. As early as 8:03 p.m. last Sunday, there was a statement that “heavy rains over NCR; part of Bataan, Pampanga, Cavite, Laguna, and part of Quezon Province and Batangas.” At 9:59 p.m., DOST-PAGASA mentioned “at 9:44 (p.m.) another low pressure area with possible severe thunderstorms may produce heavy rains and strong winds”. And then at 10:01 p.m., there was a DOST statement “at 10:00 p.m. target areas Metro Manila at NCR.” And there were statements of “moderate to heavy [rains] in areas observed in Tanay, Port Area, and Science Garden for the past three hours and most likely to continue for the next three hours” and they also mentioned flooding is possible in low-lying areas and those located near the river channels. And people are advised to monitor the weather condition and watch out for the next warning. And at 10:04 p.m., it was re-tweeted by News5Aksyon: “PAGASA at 9:44 p.m., another LPA in the vicinity of Bataan.”
So we have the timeline of DOST-PAGASA—as well as NDRMCC, has also been updating the media outfits that are following PAGASA. And, for the benefit of those who are following—the media partners following NDRRMC are [Channels] 4, 13, Solar TV, ANC, TV5, UNTV, GMA-7, ABS[-CBN]. And print: PDI [Philippine Daily Inquirer], Philippine Star, Radio DZMM, DZRH, DZBB, and Radyo5. That’s what we were informed.
Q: Yeah. But that’s the exact point, sir. Do you think it’s too late considering what the President has been saying all along is real time ‘yung mga forecast? And this comes too late tapos I don’t know where did they post [updates] aside from Twitter.
SECRETARY LACIERDA: As far as we know, DOST has been giving its information to the public—through Twitter, through NDRRMC, and through [the] radio media stations that are following them.
Q: Yes, sir. On our latest interview with Mr. Buddy Javier of PAGASA earlier, he was—[all throughout] the interview, he failed to mention straightforwardly ‘yung shallow low pressure area. Kung hindi pa natanong ng anchor, hindi pa niya babanggitin ‘yun—the reason behind that strong winds and heavy rains.
SECRETARY LACIERDA: I didn’t follow the interview of Mr. Javier. But, insofar as the timeline here is concerned, DOST has been informing the public of the presence of a low pressure area as early as—DOST informed the public as early as 8:03, at 8:00 p.m., that there would be heavy rains over NCR last night.
Q: Yeah. Precisely the point, sir. Kasi kaninang umaga sa mga interviews ng PAGASA, hindi na naman minention [mention] ‘yon at sinabi lang na biglaan nga daw. There was a surge of LPA. So what’s that? Parang magic wand na: ‘Hey! There’s an LPA.’ Biglaan na we don’t know beforehand? When, in fact, during Sunday sa forecast ng U.S. Navy, nakita nila ‘yung LPA.
SECRETARY LACIERDA: I wouldn’t be able to determine why Mr. Javier was not aware of the presence of the low pressure area. But, as far as the DOST is concerned—the personnel that have been informing the public—we believe that we have been forthcoming with our announcements. I’m sorry, I don’t have any information on the interview with Mr. Javier.
[Excerpt 2 from 11:05 to 15:08]
Q: Just one more question on the LPA, may nakita ba tayong may nagkamali o sino ang nagkamali? Kasi it seems that even the editors couldn’t go home last night. So they’re like—everyone was caught flatfooted, literally.
SECRETARY LACIERDA: I don’t know. The Inquirer follows NDRRMC and DOST—and you don’t follow DOST apparently. Inquirer does not follow DOST in their Twitter account. But those who were following the Twitter account are, for instance, ANC Alerts, DZ[IQ]—you’re this one, DZIQ. That’s your station. You are following. So apparently DZIQ was informed. Maybe the radio failed to inform the desk. But you are following. InterAksyon is following. DZMM Teleradyo is also following. And I saw it in the crawler that they were publishing in their crawler real time—the announcements of (DOST on) Twitter. So I don’t know why some of you were not able to—obviously some of you were not able to get it because you were not following the Twitter account of DOST. But we can release you the timeline and we will furnish you just for the sake of clarification and to clear the air as to: Were they remiss or not? And this will show that the PAGASA was not remiss in their duty to inform the public.
Q: We asked the question kasi parang hindi natin na-anticipate, again, ‘yung impact while there could be released in Twitter—updates, and from DOST. But ‘yung magnitude ba ng dumating sa atin kagabi, alas-onse—trees were falling and then leaves were everywhere—and then parang hindi naman yata part ng advisory ‘yon. Parang we didn’t expect that ferocity and the speed with which the LPA wreaked havoc in Metro Manila. So parang ‘yun lang—are we not that ready yet for this kind of [situation]?
SECRETARY LACIERDA: Mike, we have a 10:04 (p.m. update on) Twitter and News5Aksyon actually retweeted this. It said at 9:44 (p.m.) another LPA. Possible severe thunderstorms may produce heavy rains and strong winds in the vicinity of Bataan. And then there was another [tweet] again at 10:01 [p.m.]. So I think we are informing—we did inform the public. The media outfits… And we thank the media outfits who published it in their respective media stations—the updates of PAGASA and as well as NDRRMC. If there is any… We can always further coordinate with media stations. But, as far as we are concerned, the timeline of DOST, PAGASA, NDRRMC would prove that the public was informed and updated through our media partners and also through Twitter.
Q: Sir, sa area namin brownout kagabi. Paano makakapag-Twitter ‘yung mga tao kung brownout?
SECRETARY LACIERDA: Ako rin brownout din area ko—9:13. Pero I got Twitter. I got Twitter.
Q: But, I mean, should there be something more direct to people? Kasi hindi naman lahat, sir, makaka-access sa Twitter. Parang dapat yata ma-cascade sa local government para sila ‘yung mag-broadcast naman through proper channels like LGUs [local government units].
SECRETARY LACIERDA: ‘Yung may radyo po—the AM stations were informing. Kahit na wala naman kayong kuryente, may radyo—may baterya naman siguro ang mga radyo. And I was following also the radio stations through battery by the way ha. Wala rin kaming [kuryente]—brownout kami. Hanggang alas-tres kaninang umaga brownout. But, again, these are—puwede nating pag-usapan ito. It’s not a very difficult situation.
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