Andanar: PCO’s lapses ‘will never happen again’

Mara Cepeda
Andanar: PCO’s lapses ‘will never happen again’
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar also takes 'full responsibility' for the recent gaffes of the Presidential Communications Office

MANILA, Philippines – Communications Secretary Martin Andanar promised to put an end to the blunders of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) as it presented its proposed P1.255-billion budget for 2017 before the House committee on appropriations on Tuesday, September 13.

The said figure is P9 million more than the PCO’s P1.245-billion budget for 2016. 

Agency/Bureau/Office 2016 Budget Proposed 2017 Budget
Presidential Communications Office – Proper P214,448,000 P234,994,000
Bureau of Broadcast Services P286,152,000 P317,422,000
Bureau of Communications Services P36,966,000 P42,044,000
National Printing Office P133,829,000 P11,372,000
News and Information Bureau P114,987,000 P131,902,000
Philippine Information Agency P318,162,000 P336,772,000
Presidential Broadcast Staff (RTVM) P141,118,000 P180,895,000
Total P1,245,662,000 P1,255,401,000

During the deliberations, Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman asked Andanar if the PCO can avoid making any more mistakes given the budget hike it is seeking.

“I can assure you, chairman, congressman, sir Lagman, that those mistakes will never happen again and I can also assure the committee on appropriations that the editorial independence that President Rody Duterte has impressed on us, once we improve and once we level up the communications services of the government, PTV, and Radyo ng Bayan, that editorial independence will happen and we will make sure that it will happen,” said Andanar.

The PCO has been under fire for committing one communication gaffe after another.

These include miscommunication on the coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of a state of lawless violence, a premature announcement on the seating arrangement at the ASEAN Summit gala dinner, and the Official Gazette’s controversial Facebook post commemorating the 99th birth anniversary of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

Andanar acknowledged the PCO’s mistakes, attributing the wrong ASEAN Summit seating arrangement announcement to the “overzealousness” of a staff member. 

“We have had lapses in our operations and these lapses are lapses that happened because of one overzealousness of our staff at the Presidential News Desk, even announcing the seating arrangement of the ASEAN leaders which we are not supposed to announce because these matters are supposed to be exclusive and the media can only [find out] while the event is happening,” said Andanar.

He also described as a “blunder” the series of caption changes made for the Official Gazette’s photo commemorating Marcos’ 99th birthday. 

Marco Angelo Cabrera of the Official Gazette drew flak because he was linked to the allegedly “pro-Marcos” edits made on the Facebook post. Cabrera was part of the campaign staff of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, son of the late dictator, during the May polls.

Andanar said he takes “full responsibility” for the PCO’s lapses.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella came to Andanar’s defense on Tuesday, saying the PCO chief has been “working excellently and overtime.” – Rappler.com 

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.