Marcos Jr. administration

Marcos campaign aides join ‘reorganized’ Malacañang communications arm 

Bea Cupin

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Marcos campaign aides join ‘reorganized’ Malacañang communications arm 

NEW OFFICIALS. President Marcos swears in new officials of the PCO.

Presidential Communications Office

(1st UPDATE) Existing undersecretaries move from the Presidential Management Staff and the Office of the President to the communications arm of the administration

MANILA, Philippines – Key aides who worked for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s campaign are now part of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), following an executive order that restructured and streamlined the agency. 

In a post on Thursday, February 16, the PCO said the following were now officials of the communications arm of the administration: 

  • Honey Rose Mercado – Undersecretary for Traditional Media and External Affairs
  • Franz Gerard Imperial – Undersecretary for Broadcast Production
  • Gerald Baria – Undersecretary for Content Production
  • Patricia Anne Magistrado – Assistant Secretary for External Affairs
  • Ma. Rhona Ysabel Daoang – Director 
  • Marvin Antonio – Director
  • Lois Erika Mendoza – Director

The three undersecretaries of the PCO – Mercado, Imperial, and Baria – are existing undersecretaries in the Marcos administration. Mercado was under the Presidential Management Staff, and Imperial and Baria were under the Office of the President. 

Mercado is a long-time communications aide to Marcos, from at least his years as a senator. She also handled Marcos’ communications in his failed bid for the vice presidency in 2016. In 2022, Mercado worked mostly as a political aide in the presidential campaign. 

Imperial, meanwhile, was also part of the Marcos 2022 campaign team and was one of the “preparations committee heads” for the President’s oath-taking. He was later appointed executive director of Presidential Broadcast Staff-Radio Television Malacañang or RTVM, an agency that’s been moved from the Office of the President to the PCO. 

Baria is another member of the 2022 Marcos campaign team. His new post in the PCO is one that’s familiar to him – he also produced content for the Marcos campaign. 

Changes in the comms arm

The reorganization of the PCO comes months after Marcos’ first communications chief, vlogger Trixie Cruz-Angeles, exited the Palace after being bypassed by the Commission on Appointments. 

Under Angeles, the communications arm of the administration was renamed the Office of the Press Secretary. Following her exit and through an executive order that restructured the Office of the President, the communications arm was renamed Presidential Communications Office. 

Angeles had eight undersecretaries under her, even as several agencies – RTVM and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), among others – were moved to the Office of the President. 

The PCO, now under Secretary Cheloy Garafil, is a slimmer organization. Executive Order Number 16, issued on February 13, authorizes only five undersecretaries in the PCO. 

Executive Order Number 16 authorizes the PCO to have 14 assistant secretaries. The OPS under Angeles was authorized at least 9 assistant secretaries – one under each undersecretary and another under the Office of the Secretary.

EO No. 16 also states that the PCO is to coordinate with the Presidential Adviser for Creative Communications, an office created for Marcos’ godson, film director Paul Soriano. 

RTVM, PIA, the Freedom of Information-Program Management Office, and the Bureau of Communications Service have also been returned to the PCO. 

Changes in Malacañang too  

The changes in the PCO is parallel to another major change: of Marcos taking on a new executive secretary or “Little President” in former Supreme Court Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin. 

Previously, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, Marcos’ campaign spokesperson and chief of staff, held the post. Rodriguez, like Cruz, resigned from his post barely three months into the new administration. 

Their exit followed major controversies – in Rodriguez’ case, the alleged failure to fill in posts in the bureaucracy and the sugar importation fiasco; in Cruz’s case, gaffes that included falsely claiming that Marcos was US President Joe Biden’s only bilateral meeting while in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.