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YouTube has become the new platform for some former Malacañang communications officials who were let go only a number of months into the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
A couple of videos uploaded on the recently launched Third Floor Studio : Your Happy Network! channel show the former staffers talk about their experience in the Palace, as well as their impressions of their former boss and the people who surround him.
Their testimonials were not exactly rainbows and butterflies.
The owners of the YouTube channel are former Presidential Communications Office undersecretaries Pamela Pedroche and Ina Reformina.
Prior to their Malacañang stint, Pedroche had been part of Marcos’ 2022 election campaign, while Reformina had been a longtime ABS-CBN reporter.
The two were among the handful of people who went jobless after a shakeup in the PCO in early 2023. In Reformina’s words, “we were asked to tender our courtesy resignation.”
“Nasaktan ako. Bakit? Iyong binigay mo, iyong akala mo hindi mo kayang gawin, pinagtrabahuhan mo… later on, in just a snap, sila ang nag-decide na hindi sila deserving,” Pedroche said, holding back tears in a vlog uploaded on January 17.
(I was in pain. Why? Because what you thought you cannot do, but you worked hard for… then later on, in just a snap, they decided these people are not deserving of the position.)
“I felt disappointed because 24 years ako doon sa former employer ko, straight ‘yun (I spent 24 straight years with my former employer ABS-CBN), then here comes public service, [but] it was short-lived,” Reformina added, while insisting she recovered quickly because she understood the uncertainty that came with the job.
In another video uploaded on February 5, Pedroche said there was a time she couldn’t help but ask herself why she was unceremoniously kicked out of the Malacañang.
“Hindi mo maiwasan na may tanong ka. Anyare, saan tayo mali, saan tayo kulang, sa’n tayo hindi tumugma, saan tayo namali ang tono para mawala tayo sa equation?” Pedroche added.
(What happened? What did we do wrong? Where did we come up short? What instance were we out of line that we were eventually taken out of the equation?)
In the second video, the two women were joined by their PCO batchmate Marlon Purificacion, an undersecretary who also spent less than a year in Malacañang.
The three – critical at times – gave their opinions of the President and the First Family. Purificacion and Pedroche said Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Sandro Marcos – the President’s son – needs to study more.
The two also offered advice to First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos.
“Ang daming legacy ni First Lady Imelda Marcos. Iyon na lang gayahin ‘nyo… Alam naman niya na pinag-uusapan sa lahat na isa siya sa pinagbibintangan kaya nagkaka-hetot-hetot ang Marcos admin, dahil sa pangingialam niya,” Purificacion said.
(The former first lady Imelda Marcos has many legacies you can replicate. [Liza] knows the hearsay for sure, that she’s responsible for the missteps of the Marcos administration, because of her interventions.)
“She’s a lost person. She has the desire, the ambition, the willingness and frustration to support or deliver or do something great for the country. Pero kulang ng taong may puso (There’s not enough sincere people) surrounding her to execute the dream. When I left the PCO, I sent the message through another official, saying ‘Please tell the First Lady I am not mad because my heart is bigger than my pains,'” Pedroche added.
Purificacion and Reformina also said they found Marcos’ efforts as president wanting.
“Parang gusto kong maniwala sa sinabi ni president Digong na weak leader, under the saya. Nasa kanya kung paano niya ‘yun papatunayan (I am tempted to believe in what former president Rodrigo Duterte said that Marcos is a weak leader, and submissive to his wife. It’s up to him to prove us wrong),” Purificacion said.
“Kahit ‘yung mga kritiko nagsasabi, mayroon pang time, mayroon pang pagkakataon para ibigay sa taumbayan iyong gusto nila. Gusto ko na mag-succeed ang presidente (Even critics are saying that the President still has time to give the public what they want. I want the President to succeed),” Reformina added.
Ties that bind
Reshuffling and reorganization in Malacañang are not uncommon, but are often kept hush-hush. Just this week, rumors circulated online that an internal memo asking for updated documents from presidential appointees who got in before February 2023 is meant to weed out remaining Duterte appointees in the Palace.
The PCO, however, said that the Presidential Management Staff memo is directed at all appointees, including Marcos’, as part of a performance review.
It’s important to take note that Reformina, Pedroche, and Purificacion are closely associated with Vic Rodriguez, Marcos’ campaign spokesperson and then executive secretary, although that second stint lasted only two months.
It was a messy departure. Rodriguez first resigned as executive secretary to supposedly devote more time to his family, but then claimed he would still be Marcos’ chief of staff. He later just “completely exited” the administration, and was subsequently expelled from Marcos’ political party due to alleged incompetence.
A few weeks later, lawyer and vlogger Trixie Cruz Angeles – another ally of Rodriguez – tendered her resignation, citing medical reasons.
On January 28 this year, Rodriguez flew to Davao City to attend an event where opponents of the charter change initiative under the Marcos administration banded together.
There, he took a swipe at the multi-million-peso “Bagong Pilipinas” rally being held simultaneously in Manila, saying that it was not like the crowd he was addressing in Davao where the attendees were not paid to attend.
In their vlog, the three former Malacañang communications officials were all praises for the Dutertes, and their boss Rodriguez.
“He’s just getting started,” Reformina said. “May potential maging senador or congressman (He has the potential to become a senator or a congressman),” Purificacion added.
Until then, they wait. – Rappler.com
(Some quotes were shortened for brevity.)