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By: Vanessa Almeda | Published Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Provincial governors in Central Visayas issued a unified statement demanding a public apology from the Philippine Star and a thorough investigation on the "erroneous" report about the region’s quarantine status published in their broadsheet and website. (Lito Tecson)

The four provincial governors in Central Visayas demanded a public apology from the Philippine Star for the “inaccurate, erroneous, and damaging report” it published online in relation to the quarantine status of the region.

Signed by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap and Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and Siquijor Gov. Zaldy S. Villa, the governors also asked that a thorough investigation be conducted on how a respected national news organization published an erroneous report “that is synonymous to fake news.”

They asked the management, editorial team, and the reporter Ms. Mayen Jaymalin to apologize “for causing unnecessary confusion and anxiety that further strained the mental well-being of the general public.”

During her regular program in “Ang Probinsyana,” Garcia read the one-page unity statement of the governors.

“We, the Governors of the Provinces in Central Visayas, condemn in the strongest sense the travesty – a blatant act of irresponsible journalism – perpetuated by the Philippine Star, as demonstrated by its erroneous reporting on June 19, 2020, when it announced the risk classification of the Entire Central Visayas Region was reverted to an Enhanced Community Quarantine status,” the statement read.

On June 19, 2020, at 12 a.m. the Philippine Star posted on its website a news report headlined as “Entire Central Visayas is placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ)” causing confusion and alarm to netizens and public officials. 

The report quoted Department of Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire declaring the region on ECQ. The same story also saw print in its June 19 broadsheet, which created “more chaos, panic, fear and confusion in the general public.”

In the statement, the governors cited the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act which penalizes individuals or groups creating or perpetuating false information on Covid-19 to imprisonment or fine. 

The governors said during these trying times, the public depends on the media to be the paragon of transparency and accuracy in providing the latest information on the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. 

“It is gravely unfortunate that the Philippine Star propagated the opposite,” they said. 

The Philippine Star had since removed the news article in question from their website and released an erratum clarifying the report. 

In a report posted on the same day, the newspaper quoted Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire saying that Central Visayas remains to be under General Community Quarantine except for Cebu City which is under ECQ.  (Vanessa Almeda)