CLAIM: The Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) was accused of publishing an erroneous report on the shortage of armchairs at Jose Abad Santos High School in Tondo, Manila, during the opening of classes for public schools last August 22.
Such allegation has been shared across social media platforms.
The PDI news desk and their beat reporter, Jane Bautista, stand by the veracity of the report of an entire class of Grade 7 students asked to sit on the floor because the chairs in the classroom were insufficient.
The Department of Education (DepEd) in National Capital Region said the school has “an average of 51 chairs per classroom”. Elene Reyes, the school principal, also said they have enough armchairs but the teachers only “lacked the initiative” to get them.
However, PDI only counted 27 chairs and 43 students. They said: “In fact, when the teacher was asked if the students were on the floor because there were not enough chairs, she said yes. There was another teacher present who heard that answer and can attest to it.”
PDI also clarified the teacher did not mention a “psychosocial activity” in the classroom. DepEd NCR and the Manila Public Information Office (PIO) claimed this was the reason why the students were made to sit on the floor.
In a now-deleted Facebook post, Manila PIO called PDI’s story “fake news”.
In a statement, Nestor Reyes, president of the Jose Abad Santos High School Faculty and Employees Association said the report on the armchair shortage “cannot be considered fake news”.
“Isa lang ito sa mga suliraning kinakaharap ng mga guro, bata, magulang, at school admin sa unang araw ng pasukan. Hindi lamang ito sa kasalukuyang kalagayan kundi kahit sa mga nagdaang panuruang taon. Mas malawak nating tingnan ang mga suliranin hindi sa pagpapakalat na ito ay fake news,” he said.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines-Metro Manila called on government units “not to resort to efforts discrediting the media and instead use these reports to better assess the situation and take action.”
Davao Today is part of #FactsFirstPH which brings together various sectors that are committed to promoting truth in the public space, and exacting accountability on those who harm it with lies. For those interested to join the initiative, email email@example.com.