MANILA, Philippines - Saying it had no intention to sow mass hysteria, ABS-CBN has apologized for reports that appear to have sensationalized two common cases of skin disease as an outbreak of some mysterious 'flesh-eating disease'.
In a statement, ABS-CBN said it "apologizes for the unintended fear and panic caused by its report on the cases of skin diseases in two towns in Pangasinan."
It said that "in accordance with internal standard procedures, ABS-CBN's Office of the Network Ombudsman is currently investigating the circumstances that led to the airing of the report."
"ABS-CBN News will take the appropriate actions based on the findings of the Network Ombudsman," it said.
In a February 24 video report, which has since been been taken down from the ABS-CBN website, broadcast journalist Jasmin Romero, wearing protective gear and mask, interviewed two patients from the Pangasinan towns of Villasis and Sta. Barbara and described them as having decaying (naagnas) skin due to a "mysterious disease (misteryosong sakit).
The Department of Health (DOH) and provicial health authorities later clarified that the two Pangasinan residents were suffering from severe case of psoriasis and leprosy.
DOH Secretary Enrique Ona said “there is no reported case of 'flesh-eating' skin disease in the country yet. Absolutely no reason for the public to panic.”
On Thursday, the state-run Philippine News Agency reported that residents of Pangasinan were demanding a public apoplogy from ABS-CBN for airing a story that caused public hysteria.
"I think that it is good if ABS-CBN will issue a public apology," said provincial administrator Rafael Howard Baraan.
"In order to really put the matter to rest, they (ABS-CBN) must admit that they made a mistake in projecting the erroneous report out of proportion," he added.