MANILA, Philippines - The Presidential Communications Operations Office will be reverted to the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) in a reorganization that will come amid issues involving PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar’s relationship with the media.
Andanar said an executive order that would revive the OPS is awaiting the signature of President Duterte.
“Let’s wait for it to be signed and then we can officially release that,” Andanar said during the blessing of the newly renovated International Press Center in Manila last Wednesday.
The OPS was reorganized in 2010 during the time of former president Benigno Aquino III who renamed it as the PCOO. He also formed the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning (PCDSP) office, which is tasked to handle messaging.
Although Duterte is yet to sign the order, some changes have already been implemented at the PCOO, including the designation of presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella as the one in charge of Palace message transfer, content and distribution – a function previously placed under Andanar’s overall supervision.
“In the exigency of service and in accordance with the authority of the secretary... the content and messaging of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, including the authority for the final release and distribution, shall hereinafter be under the supervision and control of the Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella,” read an unnumbered order signed by Andanar on Feb. 27.
Andanar, who has had some clashes with journalists, clarified that the reorganization had nothing to do with issues involving his relationship with the media.
“It is not an offshoot (of the issues). I will concentrate in running PCOO proper and its attached agencies to ensure lasting reforms. I will speak from time to time if spokesperson Ernie Abella is not around,” he added.
The entities attached to the PCOO are the Philippine Information Agency, News and Information Bureau, Philippine News Agency, Bureau of Communications Services, National Printing Office, APO Production Unit, People’s Television, Radyo ng Bayan and Intercontinental Broadcasting Corp.
Abella said Andanar would handle “departmental affairs” of the PCOO.
Senate reporters earlier criticized Andanar for allegedly spreading “fake news” and making an “irresponsible and unsubstantiated claim.”
Andanar refused to apologize for his statement and clarified that no journalist was alluded to as a recipient of an amount that was reportedly distributed after a press conference at the Senate.
Before assuming the presidency, Duterte said he preferred to have just one press office. – With Tina Mendez