Senate panel approves PCOO 2018 budget

By , on September 20, 2017

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella. (PCOO photo)
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella. (PCOO photo)

MANILA— A Senate panel on Wednesday approved the proposed 2018 budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and its attached agencies worth PHP1.351 billion — a PHP 22.337-million decrease from 2017 budget.

“The budget of PCOO and its attached agencies is hereby approved and will be forwarded to plenary for deliberations,” said Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, who presided over the budget hearing.

The breakdown of PCOO’s PHP1.351 billion budget is as follows:

 PCOO proper — PHP256.719 million
 Bureau of Broadcast Services (BBS) — PHP370.094 million
 Bureau of Communications Services (BCS) — PHP37.852 million
 National Printing Office (NPO) — PHP10.957 million
 News and Information Bureau (NIB) — PHP129.125 million
 Philippine Information Agency (PIA) — PHP335.376 million
 Radio TV Malacanang (RTVM) — PHP210.883 million

During the budget hearing, PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar also mentioned a number of his agency’s accomplishments including the launch of a new website for its newswire service, Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Andanar said that he also plans to establish major hubs for the People’s Television Network in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to “localize” their programs.

Meanwhile, Ejercito questioned Andanar about his agency’s efforts to deal with successive blunders hounding its attached agencies,  particularly the PNA.

Andanar said that newly-appointed Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, former editor and chief of reporters of The Manila Times, will be tasked to supervise operations of the PNA.

Egco, for his part, reiterated that the gaffes of PNA are “unacceptable” and that “criticism is understandable” and that there is a need for “drastic changes” in terms of the agency’s organization and orientation.

He acknowledged that there is also a lack of PNA personnel but assured that the current staff would undergo training on journalism.

Asked by Ejercito if he considered the gaffes in the PNA as an attempt to sabotage the PCOO and the Duterte administration, Egco said that he has requested the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe these claims.

The PNA supervisor said that his agency is requesting for a PHP66.176 million budget for 2018, which will come from the budget of the NIB.

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, meanwhile, urged Andanar to task his agencies to produce more “good news” about the infrastructure projects under the Duterte administration as these were barely highlighted in mainstream media.