MANILA – Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar on Friday said that the agency’s engagement in policy development is their responsibility and another means of further promoting democracy in the country.
“We dipped our finger in policymaking because we believe that it is our responsibility to fight for our advocacy as a communication department. And for me, as a technocrat, that is my advocacy to leave something that is worthy for the Filipino people,” he said in an interview, hopeful that the lawmakers will approve PCOO’s budget proposal for the next year.
He said that there is no reason for the legislative body not to approve their budget, noting that they are undertaking various projects alongside other government agencies.
Secretary Andanar highlighted the policies and reforms that the PCOO has implemented that transformed the way information is delivered to the public, likewise policies that put stress on protecting the welfare of media workers.
Among institutional reforms made during this administration is the creation of the national communications policy, which harmonized the content and messaging of government media. The said policy also gave birth to PCOO’s crisis communications plan Laging Handa.
More government media facilities are also being built outside of Metro Manila, as part of its efforts to strengthen regional reporting. These projects include the Mindanao Media hub, Visayas Media Hub, Government Communication Academy, and the construction of new regional offices of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).
The PCOO is also spearheading the implementation of the Freedom of Information Program and the promotion of transparency among offices in the Executive Branch. They are also pushing for the FOI Law that will expand its reach to all branches of government.
“These are ideas we thought about, we fought for because we are seeing these as strategies that will improve our communications channels,” he said.
Secretary Andanar also highlighted the creation of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), which greatly helped in facilitating the decision on the infamous Maguindanao Massacre case that killed over 30 journalists and media workers.
The said decision was even pointed out by the UN as significant progress of the Philippines in protecting journalists.
UNESCO’s 2020 Director-General Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity showed that “significant progress was made” by the country in the case of the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre, where the court convicted 43 individuals behind the attack.
According to Secretary Andanar, there is also a pending bill filed on the creation of a People’s Broadcasting Corporation that will encompass radio and television broadcasting.
Aside from these, the Media Workers Bill is already pending in the Senate. The Bill aims to ensure that media workers shall be paid the basic compensation package that will include adequate compensation for hazardous media coverages and guarantees the security of tenure.
“When we exit this [office], I believe that PCOO will be standing up, will be rising, and will be walking with their heads high because this administration made so much improvement for our department and our way of working,” he added.