Interview

Interview with Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar by Howie Severino (GMA News TV – News To Go)

SEC. ANDANAR: …(recording cut) pagdating dito sa anti-corruption drive. In fact, nakita ninyo naman ‘di ba kung ilan na lang sa Gabinete and naailis dahil nga sa corruption at sa ibang ahensiya pa. Kaya ang gusto ng Pangulo ay tutukan ito ng husto ng isang komisyon na directly under him, under the Executive branch.

SEVERINO: Okay, in other words hindi siya satisfied doon sa tungkulin at mga ginagawang aksiyon ng Office of the Ombudsman?

SEC. ANDANAR: Hindi naman sa ganoon. Hindi naman sa hindi satisfied. But the President really is showing the message, sending the message to everyone, every government official that he has a no nonsense policy pagdating sa anti-corruption drive. Alam naman natin na itong anti-corruption drive ay a part of the campaign peomise of the President, kasabay ng pagsugpo ng criminality at droga.

SEVERINO: Okay. Dati na kasing sinabi ng Pangulo na siya mismo ang magpapa-impeach kina Chief Justice Sereno at Ombudsman Morales. Sila bang uunahin imbestigahan ng komisyong ito?

SEC. ANDANAR: Ang sa palagay ko ang i-imbestigahan ng komisyon dito ay number one iyong mga opisyales na directly under the Executive branch at kamakailan lang ay nabanggit ng ating Pangulo na may tinanggal siyang dalawang opisyales under his administration; pero hindi pa niya na pangalanan kung sino itong dalawa na ito. So itong—itong Anti-Corruption Commission ay ito ang tutulong sa ating Pangulo para maihatid at para talagang maging successful iyong kampanya niya laban corruption.

SEVERINO: Okay. Dumako naman tayo sa issue ng fake news. Pabor ba kayo na isabatas ang pagbabawal sa fake news o iyong pagpapakalat ng maling impormasyon?

SEC. ANDANAR: Ako ay pabor sa hakbang ng ating Kongreso, ng ating Senado na kailangan ay matigil na itong fake news. Ako ay pabor doon sa panawagan, kailangan magkaroon ng fact literacy program o media literacy program. In fact, ito po ay napag-usapan namin, Howie, ng mga counterparts ko sa ASEAN when I chaired the meeting, the dialogue between the ASEAN Information Minister dito sa Pilipinas at pinag-usapan nga natin itong fake news.

SEVERINO: Okay. Siguro naman na-monitor ninyo iyong Senate hearing noong Miyerkules ‘no. Isa sa mga inusisa sa pagdinig ay iyong pagkuha ng inyong opisina ng mga blogger tulad nila Mocha Uson, na Assistant Secretary na ngayon, at ni Arjay Nieto na isa sa mga consultant ng Department of Foreign Affairs. Bakit po sila kailangan ng gobyerno?

SEC. ANDANAR: I would like to underline the importance, Howie, of the PCOO that we should not consider it as personality based. In fact ang PCOO should be viewed from the lens of PTV4, PIA, Philippine News Agency, Radyo Pilipinas, Presidential Communications, iyong mga Facebook doon sa media pages at RTVM. You know, PCOO hindi naman siya personality based department. So siguro para sa ating mga kababayan na sa aking hiling dapat, panawagan sa kanila ay to judge PCOO based on our jobs, roles, dito sa mga ahensiya na nabanggit natin. Sapagka’t kung titignan mo naman iyong PTV, Radyo Pilipinas, kung titignan mo ang PIA and iyong controversial na Philippine News Agency, we are doing everything to strengthen these media entities na pag mamay-ari po ng taong bayan.

SEVERINO: Okay, sir. Sensible naman itong sinasabi ninyo ‘no, hindi dapat personality based. But by employing someone like Mocha Uson, who is quite a strong personality, isn’t it unavoidable na magiging personality based ang association ng inyong opisina?

SEC. ANDANAR: Alam ninyo po si Mocha Uson, she is appointee of the President. And ang kaniyang role talaga – just to give you the job description of Mocha – is to head the social media division of the Presidential Communications Operations Office primarily to be able to deliver the message of the President to a particular market on social media. At ito iyong masa na sa social media.

Sa palagay ko naman, Howie, doon sa mga lakad ng Pangulo na sinasama si Mocha, she has been very effective in delivering that message to the more than 5 million followers, her followers, ni Mocha. So, I look at her from that light, ngayon of course mayroong mga issues about iyong personality ni Mocha, kung puwede ba itong mahiwalay sa kaniyang pagiging opisyal ng gobyerno. Mahabang debate kasi iyan eh, kasi sasabihin ng isa na hindi mo puwedeng ihiwalay dahil taong gobyerno na iyan. At the same manner that iyong iba namang magsasabi—well, even if she’s the government, she still has a right to express herself and to—the freedom of expression and freedom of speech, hindi nawawala iyan sa isang tao.

SEVERINO: Okay. So how would you advice the public to regard her post, her comments or blogging. Should we regard her comments as representing the government or her private views? And how do you—where is the boundary between the two sir?

SEC. ANDANAR: Alam mo iyong sa blog ni Mocha, sa pagpasok niya pa lang sa gobyerno, sinabi naman niya sa amin at kaming dalawa nag-usap kami at sinabi niya sa akin na everything she writes there ay galing mismo sa kaniya. It does not represent the Presidential Communications Operations Office. Now kung gusto ninyo po ng official PCOO, you can go to PTV, Radyo Pilipinas, PNA, PIA. You can go to Presidential Comms Facebook, Facebook page or you can also go to our website, the pcoo.gov.ph or even the Radyo Television Malacañang, RTVM.

SEVERINO: Okay. Pero kapag siya ay ina-identify po siya as Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson then what she post and comment as Assistant Secretary shouldn’t be regarded as representing the official line of the government or private view pa rin niya iyon?

SEC. ANDANAR: As long as she post it in her own Facebook page that’s her own; but the moment that she get herself interviewed by the media or the moment that she is quoted in our official pages then that’s official Mocha, Assistant Secretary Mocha.

SEVERINO: Okay. Eh doon po sa pagdinig sa Senado napag-usapan po iyong kung ano dapat iyong guidelines ng mga blogger ano. You we’re quoted as saying the standards for bloggers should be—should follow the Code of Ethics of Journalists. Ano ba talaga ng standard na dapat i-apply sa mga bloggers especially the very prominent bloggers who are blogging on behalf of the government or has been employed by the government, ano dapat ang standards nila?

SEC. ANDANAR: Tama po kayo, Howie. That was my opinion when I was interviewed, I think it was last year. As a former broadcaster or newsman and commentator, of course iyong bias ko is sa industriya natin ‘di ba? But then again, that is precisely the reason why there was a hearing in Congress led by Senator Poe para pag-usapan, to talk about it, para mayroon silang mabalangkas na batas ‘no, kung ano talaga, how we should define this and I would leave it to our wise men and women in the Senate and in Congress to talk about it, then maybe to decide kung ano talaga ang dapat—how we should define the rules about this.

SEVERINO: But in the interest of fairness. Do you think bloggers should also get the side of their subject or the people that they are criticizing, the way journalist or reporters are expected to get the other side in the interest of fairness?

SEC. ANDANAR: In my opinion, in my opinion—but if you are really—if you are journalist, the truthful journalist, then you should really you do it. If you’re a commentator or if you are a column writer then one should really follow the ethics in journalism. Pero pagdating kasi sa mundo ng blogging, ano iyan eh, bago iyan eh. That’s the reason why so many people are becoming famous now na hindi naman journalist because of this technology and because of this social media na nagiging ano, nagiging pinaka—I would say pinakamalakas na avenue for people to get together and talk about issues. I looked at it really as an extension of our freedom of speech and freedom of expression dito sa technology ng social media at Facebook at kung ano man.

Now, pagdating doon sa if we should craft a law or guidelines about blogging, I really believe that it should be dealt as a regulated industry or community, if you should call it a community. The same way na tayong mga journalist ay hindi naman tayo nire-regulate ng gobyerno.

SEVERINO: Okay. Maraming salamat po sa inyong panahon, Presidential Communication Secretary Martin Andanar.

SEC. ANDANAR: Mabuhay po kayo at salamat po. Mabuhay po kayo.

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