By: CMFR Staff
Posted on: June 7, 2023, 12:30 pm
JOURNALIST JOSE "Joe" Torres Jr. has been appointed as the new director general of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA). An award-winning journalist and author, Torres will manage the country's main information arm that has a network spanning 16 regional offices and 78 provincial centers.
Not to be confused with the government-funded Philippine News Agency, which is a newswire service, the PIA is tasked with disseminating information about government projects, programs, and services. In an interview with Rappler, Torres said his first six months will focus on "modernizing" the PIA to better carry out that mandate.
Misinformation and disinformation, Torres said, were also his concerns. "Fighting disinformation and misinformation is part of [our work]," he said. Disinformation is a key problem under the administration of President Marcos Jr., especially because it has followed the model set forth by his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte.
Torres succeeded Ramon Lee Cualoping III, who assumed the post in 2020. His appointment was dated May 19, 2023. He took his oath of office on May 29.
Torres' Journalism Journey
Torres started as a writer in the late 1980s for the now defunct alternative news service Philippine News and Features, which was known for its critical coverage of the dictatorship of the current president's father, Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
Torres's reportage from the early 1990s in the southern Philippines led to the writing of the book "Into the Mountain: Hostaged by the Abu Sayyaf," which earned him one of his two National Book Awards.
Torres has worked for various local and international news organizations throughout his career and earned awards and recognitions. His piece, "The Making of a Mindanao Mafia" published by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, took the third prize in the Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism in 2004.
Torres was the chairperson of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines until November 2008, when he was removed for an alleged ethics violation. He is a member of the board of the National Press Club of the Philippines.