Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public information and mass media, filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into the funding of the information campaign to be spearheaded by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and the consultative committee (Concom) that drafted the proposed federal constitution.
Geremy Pintolo
Poe seeks probe on information drive budget for federalism
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - August 11, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate is set to conduct a probe into the P90-million fund for the administration’s information campaign on federalism.

Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public information and mass media, filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into the funding of the information campaign to be spearheaded by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and the consultative committee (Concom) that drafted the proposed federal constitution.

Poe also cited in her Senate Resolution 821 the controversial and risqué video of PCOO Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson that she said “reeks of impropriety to the Concom nor does it help elevate public discourse” on the government’s effort to explain federalism.

Poe said the objective of the inquiry was to ensure “accountability and transparency and implementing full disclosure of all transactions involving public interest.”

During the hearing of the Senate finance committee on the proposed P3.7-trillion national budget for 2019 on Tuesday, Sen. Francis Escudero questioned the P90-million allocation that PCOO chief Secretary Martin Andanar had said would be sourced from savings.

“Where was that item (P90 million) charged? There is no approved federalism yet so what are we going to campaign for? We don’t even know in what shape, size, color or form that is,” Escudero asked.

The Senate committee on constitutional amendments, chaired by Sen. Francis Pangilinan, is currently deliberating on the Concom draft, along with other Charter change measures.

Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the committee, said when using taxpayers’ money for such a purpose, “it must be based on careful, comprehensive study and research and it should be done in a manner that derives respect from our constituents.”

Vice President Leni Robredo slammed Uson’s controversial video, saying it was an “insult” to Filipinos, especially since it was filmed in a government office, with the “supervision” of a government official.

“Are we promoting vulgarity as Filipinos? If there’s a need for us to intervene to stop this, we will do it,” Robredo said in Filipino.

Robredo said such actions are not helpful to President Duterte, whom Uson and blogger Drew Olivar support.

Robredo, who was also maligned by Olivar in a video posted online last year, said there is no room for lewd pronouncements, especially in discussing policies of the government.

Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) executive director Jojo Guan said the posting of the video clearly violated Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women.

Guan also said Uson violated the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials in posting the video.

“While Ms. Uson claimed that the video was only posted on her personal blog, the fact remains that she is a public official who represents the government. Disturbingly, Ms. Uson’s bearing just reflects the views of other public officials of the present administration,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Senate committee on economic affairs chaired by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian is set to conduct separate hearings on the Concom proposal, focusing only on its economic and fiscal implications.

In his resolution, Gatchalian noted the federal form of government is being touted as able to maximize growth potentials of the regions by reducing the supposed concentration of power, resources and services in the national government.

The senator, however, cited several stern warnings from economic managers, business groups and rating agencies against shifting to a federal system.

Gatchalian said the Senate must be given an opportunity to evaluate the economic implications of the proposed shift to a federal system.

“The shift to federalism will radically alter the structure of national and local governments. Altering the structure of government will definitely create uncertainties in economy and doing business. This will have an adverse effective on the short- and medium-term economic growth of our country,” he said.  – Helen Flores

FEDERALISM GRACE POE PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS OPERATIONS OFFICE
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