Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) is setting up a new Global Media Affairs Office to prepare for the possible revival of the role of press attaché in select Philippine embassies all over the world.
PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar announced that this is among the reforms being undertaken in the eventuality that his office reverts to the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS).
"Once we revert to the Office of the Press Secretary, we are assuming that we will also revive the press attaché division, so with this new division for Global Media Affairs...it will eventually become the press attaché division," he said on Monday, November 12.
He was speaking at a hearing on his agency's 2019 budget, which was finally "conditionally approved" by the Senate finance subcommittee chaired by Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito.
Ejercito said the budget is provisionally approved pending the PCOO's submission of its reorganization plan given its eventual reincarnation as the OPS.
A proposed draft executive order (EO) on the reversion is already with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and is "awaiting President [Rodrigo] Duterte's signature," said Andanar.
On Sunday, November 11, Andanar said he has tapped former TV5 reporter JV Arcena to head the Global Media Affairs Office.
"You know, we've worked with JV for such a long time. We know that he's very hardworking, he is a leader, he is an initiator, the guy who can think [of] original ideas," Andanar said in a DWFM radio interview.
After his stint with TV5, Arcena worked as a senior media specialist at the US State Department Asia-Pacific Media Hub.
Andanar explained Arcena's and the office's envisioned role during the Monday hearing.
"That Global Media Affairs head will be the one managing the different issues, the different inquiries, questions by international reporters from all over the world," said Andanar.
What's a press attaché? A press attaché is the official in an embassy in charge of dealing with media in that country. Andanar said the last time there were press attachés was during the administration of Joseph Estrada – some 20 years ago.
While there are currently media representatives in Philippine embassies, he said there are no official press attachés "solely dedicated to focus on speaking on behalf of the executive branch."
The proposed EO will revive the role of press attachés. It proposes the creation of a press attaché division. But while the EO has not yet been signed, the Global Media Affairs Office will supervise the work of media representatives in the embassies and then eventually become the press attaché division.
Andanar said press attachés may be assigned to countries like China, Japan, Singapore, and Thailand. One press attaché will be in charge of the entire Middle East while another, to be based in Paris, will supervise media affairs in Europe.
The PCOO chief has spoken to individuals in the media industry who he is considering recommending as press attachés. He was advised to pick individuals already living in countries where he wants a press attaché presence in order to save on public funds.
Ejercito voiced hope that the new Global Media Affairs Office and eventually the chosen press attachés will help "improve the image and perception" of the Philippines in their countries of assignment.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.