MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III has proposed the revival of the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) to replace the current role of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).
Sotto announced this suggestion, backed by other senators, during the PCOO’s budget hearing at the Senate on Wednesday, October 3. (FAST FACTS: What is the PCOO?)
“We were thinking perhaps this is the best time to review and study the possibility of reverting it back to the Office of the Press Secretary. We can streamline that and use your current budget,” he said.
Before the hearing, Sotto told reporters that he wouldn’t call the proposed move an "abolition" of the PCOO but just "reverting" to the OPS.
He also said there is no need for the passage of a law or executive order to make this happen, as the changes can be implemented just by reallocating the PCOO budget to the OPS.
He explained that the PCOO was only created during the administration of Benigno Aquino III.
“The reason why PCOO was created…was to accommodate some political friends of the previous administration,” said Sotto.
During his time, Aquino split the functions of the OPS into two offices, the PCOO and the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, both headed by Cabinet-rank secretaries. President Rodrigo Duterte abolished the PCDSPO and moved its functions to the PCOO, essentially reverting the PCOO into the OPS but with a different name.
Why contemplate this change now? The Senate President said that he and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Gregorio Honasan II had been questioning the effectiveness of the PCOO, amid the many controversies it has had to face under the Duterte administration.
“Lately, the perspective of some members of the Senate is that we have completely digressed already from the original intent of the creation of the Office of the Press Secretary and it is no longer in the language of the administration,” he said.
There was a need, he said, to assess if the PCOO “has really been effective in carrying out the message of the President to the people.”
Sotto has already spoken of this proposal to Duterte. Duterte supposedly expressed support for it, instructing the Senate President to discuss it with PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar.
Sotto and Andanar brought up the proposal during their private meeting before the budget hearing.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.