CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City—The Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año urged information officers of the military to reject disinformation during the 6th Public Affairs Officers (PAO) Summit held 21-22 September 2017 at the Commissioned Officers Club here.
“I strongly urge our public affairs practitioners to continue to tell the truth. Refuse to be dragged into the trend of disinformation and deliberate sowing of confusion,” General Año said in a speech during the closing ceremony of the PAO Summit
The AFP Chief also asked the participants of the two-day gathering not to feed the hatred, and instead “exhaust efforts to present facts, value respect, and appreciate criticisms in the AFP’s quest for an informed public and an elevated discourse.”
The PAO Summit is an annual gathering of AFP spokespersons and public affairs officers assigned to different military units, including the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy, and the AFP Area Commands.
“Now on its 6th iteration, the summit featured subject-matter experts on social media, cybersecurity, military-media dynamics, and crisis communication among others,” said AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo, who shared his experiences on media relations.
“We invited personalities including USec Ernesto Abella, the presidential spokesperson and Mr Robespierre Bolivar, acting spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs, to guide both budding and veteran public affairs practitioners of the AFP,” Colonel Arevalo added.
Undersecretary Abella discussed best practices in Crisis Management while Spokesman Bolivar talked about updates on latest international issues concerning national defense and security.
Other speakers like Major Gene Orense of the Civil Relations Service AFP talked about the importance of social media as platform for public affairs while LTC Roland Ong, a military reservist and Solutions Consultant of FireEye, Inc. presented latest cybersecurity threats and best practices to strengthen the AFP’s cybersecurity efforts.
Public affairs officers also learned about bridging the issues and gaps between media and the military from veteran journalist Ms Cynthia Balana. Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations, G7 of the Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry Division discussed strategies on public information during his stint as Marawi Operations spokesperson.
Major General Restituto Padilla Jr, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans, J5, and AFP Spokesperson as discussant; and Professor Mario Antonio Lopez of the Asian Institute of Management as moderator also shared valuable insights on pressing national and security concerns.
“I hope that you (participants) are all able to appreciate the importance of Public Affairs and recognize its potential to solidify the AFP’s present disposition as a highly trusted and widely supported government institution,” General Año added.