MANILA – The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) on Wednesday refuted allegations that the government media platforms managed by the office and its attached agencies are being used to “red-tag,” or to accuse political groups and other organizations of terrorism.
On the supposed budget deliberation of the agency before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations, PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar stressed that such actions are not within the domain of the PCOO.
“The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and all its attached agencies is not the spokesperson of the NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict), or for the President on that matter. PCOO is a mere platform for the national government to use,” he said.
This was following the protest of Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro against the PCOO’s budget, who alleged that they have been publicly tagged as terrorists on the social media account of NTF-ELCAC Strategic Communications Cluster Spokesperson and Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy.
Secretary Andanar said that such information was not posted in PCOO’s official social pages, nor aired through state-owned People’s Television Network (PTV).
“It was a Facebook post of Undersecretary Badoy using her own Facebook page. It was not posted on the PCOO page which has 2 million followers. It was not even posted on PTV, which has more than 2 million followers,” he said, referring to the graphic presented by members of the Makabayan bloc about the alleged red-tagging.
Secretary Andanar assured that the proposed P1.59 billion 2021 budget for the PCOO will be spent to strengthen information dissemination, especially during this health crisis where the public needs to be informed on health protocols and government-led initiatives to curb the pandemic.
“Whatever the sentiments of our esteemed Usec. Badoy, she is given the right to answer. That is her own post on her page and that should not affect the rest of PCOO budget including the [attached] agencies’ budget,” he said.
“This money is for the Executive branch. This is for the PCOO to be able to disseminate information, especially now during the time of the pandemic. I cannot imagine not having any budget to help the national government and every Filipino disseminate the correct, the right information to avoid COVID-19.” Secretary Andanar said.
During the same hearing, Secretary Andanar also bared that the PCOO plans to compete in terms of viewership ratings with the country’s top broadcast networks.
“We’ve had the plan to at least be able to compete as far as ratings are concerned. And the PTV being government owned, it has to make its own money from advertisers,” Secretary Andanar said.
“Now we have the Mindanao media hub to be unveiled this coming October. So as far as Luzon and Mindanao, we have two strategic hubs already,” he added.
The hearing for the PCOO’s budget is now scheduled on September 18, 2020, after the committee suspended it, as requested