The “Wow China” radio program being aired on state-run Radyo Pilipinas is not meant to promote any political view or cause, the Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS) clarified on Tuesday.
The statement came after the radio show was heavily criticized by netizens who expressed disapproval that it was being aired by a Philippine government station.
“Its format is light, informative, and entertaining; in no way whatsoever does it espouse or promote a particular political view or cause,” the PBS said.
The radio network said the program features the traditions, culture, and history of “both the Philippines and China”; and “the differences and similarities between the two countries.”
The radio program, the statement said, is a result of multiple bilateral media and communications agreements between the Philippines and China meant to enhance cultural relations, information exchange, and to strengthen technical capability in broadcast and in publishing.
It added that the Philippines has been regularly interacting with other states to which it has diplomatic and cultural relations on a very wide and varying ranges of activities.
“Apart from China, PBS has also worked with other countries, and extended airtime as well, to air their news, socio-cultural, and tourism content — for the educational benefit of Filipinos,” the PBS said.
PBS said it used to air cultural and news materials from the United Kingdom’s BBC and Thailand’s Sawasdee pursuant to bilateral agreements executed with the said countries.
“It is also likewise noteworthy to note that PBS-BBS is in cooperation with the Voice of America (USA),” it added.
The independently-produced program Regional Roundup, PBS said, has also been airing news and features on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Philippines-East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
“It has additionally been promoting The Sound of Southeast Asia, by celebrating popular music from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam to foster regional integration,” the PBS said.
Meanwhile, PBS said it recognizes everyone’s constitutional freedoms, and respects the views and sentiments of the public.
It also assured that it will continue being at the forefront of disseminating relevant news and information to the public, particularly during the prevailing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) health crisis.
“We have been working hand-in-hand with the different agencies and units of the government to ensure that communication with the Filipino people is constant and consistent,” the PBS said.
The radio network urged the public not to create confusion, cultivate fear and anger, or propagate divisiveness at a time when the country needs everyone to stand united.
“Now, more than ever, PBS remains steadfast and true to its mandate of being the broadcast arm of the government of the Republic of the Philippines and its people,” it said.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a virtual presser, stressed the importance of free speech for all.
“That’s part of the free marketplace of ideas. Hayaan na po nating bumuo ng sariling opinyon ang ating mga kababayan doon sa inereng advertisement na ‘yan o programa (Let us allow our citizens to create their own opinions about the advertisement or program being aired),” he said.
The “Wow China” radio program, which has been airing on Saturday and Sunday afternoons since 2018, is independently produced by China Radio International and co-hosted by a PBS anchor and broadcast in Filipino.
An episode on May 10 which was posted on the Facebook page of Rado Pilipinas was being shared online and has so far reached thousands of views and reactions.
The radio program, which has been running weekly, opened with a spiel urging Filipinos to “get to know our Chinese brothers for better relations and friendship.”
At one point in the show, hosts Nimfa Asuncion and Ernest Wang offered Mandarin lessons in partnership with the University of the Philippines’ The Confucius Institute. PNA.GOV.PH