PCOO

Lawyer, pro-Duterte vlogger Trixie Cruz-Angeles is Marcos press secretary

Pia Ranada
Lawyer, pro-Duterte vlogger Trixie Cruz-Angeles is Marcos press secretary

NEW PRESS SECRETARY. Trixie Cruz-Angeles, pictured here in a Senate hearing on fake news, will become the PCOO chief under Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Photo by Joseph Vidal/PRIB

As head of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, Angeles will be in charge of media accreditation for coverage of official presidential events
Lawyer, pro-Duterte vlogger Trixie Cruz-Angeles is Marcos press secretary

MANILA, Philippines – Lawyer and pro-Duterte vlogger Trixie Cruz-Angeles has been picked by presumptive president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to be his press secretary.

This was announced through a statement from the Marcos camp on Wednesday, May 25.

“It is with humility that I accept the nomination and assume the responsibility of running the affairs of the PCOO,” the Marcos camp quotes Angeles as saying.

As press secretary, Angeles will lead the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), an agency that supervises state media channels and stations like PTV, Radyo ng Bayan, and more. The PCOO is also in charge of all documentation and state coverage of presidential events. It handles accreditation of journalists assigned to cover presidential functions.

The PCOO secretary has also been known to sometimes function as a presidential spokesperson but the Marcos camp said this will likely not be one of Angeles’ tasks.

“Marcos had earlier announced that he will not appoint a spokesperson, which in effect limits the function of the Press Secretary to talking head during press briefings,” reads the Marcos camp statement.

‘Social media strategist’ during Duterte presidency

Angeles is no stranger to PCOO affairs. Under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, she functioned as a “social media strategist” of the agency, from July 2017 to 2018. She was one of the social media personalities who helped promote Duterte’s candidacy during the 2016 elections.

Like many such pro-Duterte vloggers, she had regularly lambasted journalists, opposition figures, and critics of the government. In a Senate hearing, she has admitted “feeding” pro-government information to another Duterte appointee and social media personality Mocha Uson, who ran a Facebook page that had spread inaccurate information and propaganda.

The Duterte presidency has been distinguished by the President’s support for, and amplification of, social media influencers and personalities who targeted his critics, at times spread disinformation and lies against them, and vilified mainstream media and journalists. Such online support had galvanized his base and bred a highly divisive and polarized environment for any government critic.

The Marcos camp’s background description of Angeles pointed out her experience in the media – including as radio host of a radio program on DWIZ, which was heavily pro-Duterte; contributor to several magazines; an Ateneo de Manila University fine arts lecturer, and former lecturer at the Institute for Cultural and Arts Management, and more.

She had also been a former commissioner for cultural heritage at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and a former spokesperson of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

Angeles finished her law degree at the University of the Philippines in 1997. But in 2016, the Supreme Court slapped her with a three-year suspension, stemming from a 2003 complaint against her that accused her of refusing to refund a client despite allegedly failing to produce the services required.

Angeles was the lawyer of Oakwood mutineer, former Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon, who was also an ardent Duterte supporter and ended up getting appointed to key posts in government, including as chief of the Bureau of Customs.

Angeles was also part of the legal team of the late chief justice Renato Corona, during his impeachment trial in 2012.

During the Duterte presidency, Angeles served as counsel in cases against the leadership of the influential Iglesia ni Cristo, accused of corruption, abduction, and illegal detention. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.