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Improved gov’t communications

The presidential communications office has had its faults, and its shares of detractors, but one good thing about it is that it has made its presence felt, something we cannot say the same for those under the previous administrations.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar, who in the first few months of the Duterte administration was always on television, has been conspicuously out of the limelight, but that is because he is currently focused on strengthening the agency. He even gave up his job as back-up Palace spokesperson to devote his time and effort instead to strengthening the various offices under him.

According to people close to him, he wants to give substance to the terms “press freedom” and “freedom of information,” and has been busy streamlining the organization.

To promote transparency and accountability as fundamental tenets of good governance, the Duterte administration issued Executive Order 2 providing for access by the public to policies and decisions of the departments and agencies under the executive branch.

While the EO does not cover the legislature and the judiciary, it is a big step forward in implementing the constitutional guarantee of full public disclosure of all government transactions involving public interest.

To put this EO into effect, the PCOO started online postings of such transactions in a few executive agencies, with many more lined up in the months ahead. But the agency still hopes that the legislature would pass an FOI bill covering the three branches of government, thus fully implementing the letter and spirit of the fundamental law.

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The PCOO then initiated the creation of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security under Administrative Order 1. The PTFoMS is mandated to investigate all cases of harassment and violence against all legitimate members of media and to recommend charges against the perpetrators. The task force has already issued guidelines to protect journalists from harm and to put an end to media killings. The situation for media has become so bad that the country has been included in the top five list of countries most dangerous for journalists.

It also created the People’s Broadcasting Corp. that will integrate Radyo ng Pilipinas and PTV 4. Radyo ng Pilipinas plans to revitalize the 30 provincial stations, reinforce its news and current affairs, and expand news coverage.

There are also plans to establish the Mindanao Broadcast Hub to strengthen tri-media coverage of significant developments in Mindanao. It has already obtained the approval from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) of a proposal of the Bureau of Broadcast Service to use 87.5 FM nationwide as the government’s FM station.

Meanwhile, the People’s Television Network (PTV) is now in the process of reformatting its newscasts and developing new programs to educate or inform the people about government activities. Today, as a result of internal online reforms, PTV 4 has over a million followers on Facebook from the previous 30,000.

Salaam Digital TV is an effort to introduce to a broader national audience the culture, way of life and aspirations of Muslims in the country. PTV 4 also plans to put up another TV sub-channel that will focus on the lives and beliefs of the Lumads or the various ethnic tribes in Mindanao.

We also learned that Andanar is retraining, retooling and aligning the objectives of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) to make it more responsive to the needs of the times. The PNA will have its own online newscast this October. It’s about time.

Also, we were told that Andanar wants the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) to be the main public relations arm of government, with expertise in communications planning and research, messaging, production, dissemination and media placement, and capable of strengthening partnerships with other entities in both government and the private sector to ensure more effective communication across all sectors. Furthermore, the Provincial Communication Officers Network was created to establish a network of municipal, city and provincial Information Officers Network who help the national government spread the right information to the public.

He has also ordered the immediate refurbishing of the PIA Theater to make it a preferred venue for various events and home to the ASEAN Government Strategic Communications Center (AGSCC) which will be tasked to update the skills or train government information officers.

Apart from all this, the PCOO has successfully integrated social media in its news dissemination efforts. The Social Media Office is tasked to build and execute a social media communication plan that includes generating and publishing daily social media content.

PCOO has also forged a partnership with Facebook for live streaming of almost all major presidential activities. This allows netizens to keep abreast of the President’s policy pronouncements before various audiences. Followers of the Presidential Communications Facebook page increased from 2,000 to 1.1 million in just 14 months.

Malacañang reporters likewise told us that Andanar has improved the Briefing Room to make it more comfortable and convenient for media to cover the live broadcasts.

Going global

The Philippines for some years now has been positioning itself for medical tourism.

With the many health care challenges faced by several countries that include ageing populations, rising healthcare costs, unavailability of treatment, and shortage of medical professionals, the Philippines’ private hospitals and clinics now have a golden opportunity to surge ahead.

According to Joyce Sacao-Alumno, founder and president of Health Core, the country needs to prepare its healthcare providers which include hospitals, clinics and their administrators and staff for the inevitable challenges and opportunities of healthcare globalization. Health Core serves as the center for global health care management, quality accreditation and advocate of medical tourism in the Philippines.

Alumno pointed out that the healthcare landscape is changing specially in the developed countries where there is now a large ageing population. She said that neighboring countries in the ASEAN are facing a different challenge of shortage in healthcare facilities and professionals while the Philippines, with a very young population and a horde of talents that includes nurses and other healthcare and hospitality professionals, is poised to become a leading healthcare destination if it is equipped and ready to handle the international market.

Understanding the different demands of international patients, Health Core is bringing to the Philippines TEMOS International GmbH, the first and only certification body worldwide that focuses on quality programs that deal with international patient treatment from the medical and non-clinical service perspective. TEMOS is headquartered in Germany and is a member of the International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua). The training will be held on Sept. 18, 2017 from 1-5 p.m., at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel and will be conducted by TEMOS founder and CEO Claudia Mika and Socao-Alumno.
To know more about the TEMOS training, email at
info@health-core.org or call +63.908.8887880.

Alumno said they hope more hospitals and wellness centers in the Philippines will achieve international certification and accreditation in order for the Philippines to gain global acceptance in the field of healthcare since that is the first step in making the Philippines a medical tourism destination.

For comments, e-mail at mareyes@philstarmedia.com

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