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Empowering communities in healing towards national recovery

PIA-9 Year-ender

The battle against COVID-19 with the national efforts on vaccination demand generation towards healing and national recovery became the impetus of 2021 communication efforts of the Philippine Information Agency-Region 9.

The region confronted various fronts including countering fake news, disinformation and misinformation; addressing ignorance and misconceptions of the vaccines; and handling the growing impatience of the public that deals with changing quarantine protocols that restricted movement and eventually affects mental health and behavior of some sectors. 

Despite the challenges brought by COVID-19 pandemic, PIA-9 continues to provide the public with timely, relevant and accurate information through the traditional and digital media platforms available.

The region and the provincial InfoCenters continue to produce contents and IEC materials for dissemination to keep the public aware and engaged with the 4K pillars of government efforts towards national recovery:

Kalusugan…, Kaayusan…, Kabuhayan…, and Kinabukasan….

These pillars are treated uniquely or integrated in IECs produced in PIA9’s communication platforms under the banner of Inform-Inform-Inform and Explain-Explain-Explain campaign.


Information multipliers

Amidst travel and mass gathering restrictions due to erratic rise of COVID cases, PIA9 remains committed to pursue its efforts to expand and capacitate the Barangay Information Officers and its network that proved to be valuable partners as multipliers of government communication efforts.

To date a total of 1,412 barangay information officers have been established and given orientation out of the 2,114 barangays in the region. These BIONs are fully functional and operational, that primarily helps the government fight COVID through countering fake news and misinformation, including government efforts to end local communist armed conflict, promote government programs and various advocacies for the welfare of women, children and youth, persons with disabilities, seniors, and other vulnerable sectors. PIA was also able to lobby support from LGUs to sustain the BIONs.

iVolunteers or information volunteers, coming from the youth, students, and other sectors in the community, served as another link of PIA-9. These multipliers undergo capacity building and trainings as the agency's invaluable partner.
 
Strengthening partnerships

Communications and related trainings for partner line agencies and civil society groups boosted their capacities to deal with current trends and revitalize traditional medium for communication to improve public service. These include clients from Philippine National Police-PRO9, Western Mindanao Command, 18th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Education, National Irrigation Administration, Isabela City Youth Development Alliance, and the United Voices for Peace Network, among others.

2021 is a milestone year for the Mindanao Communicators Network-9. Through the efforts of PIA Regional Director Noemi B. Edaga, the Regional Development Council approved a resolution institutionalizing membership of government agencies to the Mindanao Communicators Network, ensuring their full support to development communication projects in Region 9, and the network's sustainability.

These partnerships and network building proved very beneficial to our communication efforts at this time of the pandemic.

Vaccination demand generation efforts

PIA-9 played a key role in the Technical Group for COVID-19 Vaccine Demand Generation that intensified its campaign for vaccine acceptance in the communities through massive information sessions, either face-to-face or at virtual platforms to BIONs in the different provinces in the region. Recently, PIA infocenter managers of Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur took part of the 14-day field work of Regional Project Haven Team with the Office of Civil Defense, Department of Health, and Department of the Interior and Local Government. The team visited towns with low vaccine rate to assist in strategizing to boost vaccination to attain herd immunity.

Complementing this are communication support provided to the advocacies of different government agencies through the weekly Kapihan Public Forum and Briefing in Zamboanga City with updates from provincial infocenters and livestreamed in social media platforms even that of media partners like e-Media and Mindanao Cable Television, and recently with ONETV Pagadian; the Talakayan in Basilan, which is aired over DXNO-FM radio; the livestreamed Hisgot-hisgot of Zamboanga del Norte and Kapihan sa Sibugay. These platforms are utilized to highlight government programs and advocacies on Anti-illegal drugs, HIV-AIDs, disaster preparedness, Gender and Development, Freedom of Information, peace and security, ending local communist armed conflict, anti-smuggling, and children’s rights and welfare, among others.
 
Widest information campaign on best practices

The PCOO-PIA Laging Handa Network and Public Briefings continue to highlight LGUs in the region with best practices. These were widely shared on social media and communication groups and information volunteers’ networks.

PIA9 provided full communication support to PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar’s "Pagduaw sa Mindanao" early this year and his provincial media sorties as guest in various local radio stations and also support to the recent Barangayanihan Caravan to drumbeat the Duterte Legacy.  

As head of the Regional Strategic Communication cluster of the Task Force-ELCAC, PIA-9 conducted through online platform series of orientation and information session on the atrocities and lies of Communist Terrorist Groups to BIONs, iVolunteers, and various sectors in the different communities and provinces in the region.

Using all available platforms, both the traditional and digital media, PIA-9 has accomplished and produced various IECs and activities this year. Government programs and advocacies are promoted and disseminated through these platforms that provided citizens with opportunities for an informed decision. And at the same time dismiss misinformation and disinformation and counter fake news.

No special funds for PIA-9 were allocated in the implementation of these programs and activities under COVID and ELCAC communication efforts. PIA-9 has to manage its available Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) to perform and accomplish its mandate through outsourcing and strong partnership, all logistical needs were supported.

Responding to 2022 challenges
 
As our ways forward for 2022, we shall focus on our four thrusts:

VACC TO NORMAL – where we will continue with the COVID vaccination campaign towards herd immunity and explore effective strategies to increase vaccine demand generation.

WELL-ESTABLISHED INFORMATION HIGHWAY – where we shall enhance personnel skills and capacities, including those of partner information multipliers on the ground thru partnership, like the barangay information officers and i-volunteers, especially on effective communication and the use of digital platforms.

PAYAPANG PILIPINAS – our engagement with indigenous peoples, barangay information officers of Zamboanga peninsula areas for peace and development, & agencies in the documentation and dissemination of the barangay development projects to help end local communist armed conflict.

RESILIENT PIA – where we establish the new regional office in Pagadian City and hopes to create a working environment that is state-of-the-art and responsive to the communication needs of the region, as the nation transitions to a new government in 2022 elections.

As public servants, the call of duty is of utmost importance while coping with the lack of personnel and the threat of COVID-19. We shall continue to strive to improve and build a legacy of a better PIA and public servants with the support and guidance from central government.

As we continue to contribute to easing the burden of the Filipino public at this time of pandemic, PIA9 will be resilient and committed to carryout PIA’s mandate of empowering Filipinos in the region.

This is PIA in region 9, empowering communities towards healing and national recovery. (EDT/RVC/PIA9)

About the Author

Rene Carbayas

Assistant Regional Head

Region 9

Media practitioner, a teacher by profession, an advocate for youth, peace and environment, culture and the arts, playwright and theater artist, earned his Masters Degree in Theater at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, and pursued studies in public administration at Western Mindanao State University. Some 18 years in public service and today as Assistant Regional Director of the Philippine Information Agency Region IX.

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