Akbayan Congressman Tom Villarin
PASAY CITY, Philippines – The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), headed By Secretary Martin Andanar, is asking for a P1.4B budget for next year.
This is P100M higher that the office’s budget this year.
But senators seem unconvinced that the agency really deserves such a huge amount of public funds following the uproar caused by the controversial video on federalism posted by PCOO Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.
For Akbayan Congressman Tom Villarin, the agency deserves no more than a one-peso budget.
“Ito ang pinapasahod natin kay Mocha na ang ginagawa lang ay ginagawang cabaret ang Office of the President o ginagawang comedy bar (This is how much we pay Mocha who has done nothing but turn the Office of the President into a comedy bar and a cabaret),” Villarin said.
Senators are now challenging the PCOO to justify its budget request after Uson’s video stirred controversy for what they described as inappropriate and lewdly acts.
“Bakit tataasan ang isang ahensya tulad ng PCOO? Ngayon imporante ang komunikasyon, pero anung klaseng communication (Why should we increase the budget of PCOO? Communication is important, but what kind of communication?)” questioned Senator Grace Poe.
“Dadaan din sa butas ng karayom ang budget ng PCOO. Tiyak ko naman mga kasama kong mga senador dito ay talagang titimbangin(PCOO’s budget will have to go through the eye of a needle. I am sure my fellow senators will be meticulous),” Senator Risa Hontiveros believed.
“Kung gagamitin sa pulitika, lalo na’t mag-eeleksyon, eh medyo kinu-question mark ko yan (If it will be used for politicking, especially now that election season is coming, I kind of put a question mark on it), ” said Senator Richard Gordon.
Senator JV Ejercito believes the agency will have a difficult task to defend their budget request especially at this time that the issue on the “ipederalismo” video remains a hot topic.
“Sana wag na maulit muli, kaya lang ang inaalala ko sa pagdefend sa PCOO budget, given na maraming nagreact medyo, palagay ko maraming magtatanong (I hope it doesn’t happen again. But I worry that in defending the PCOO budget, considering that many reacted to the video, many will question it),” Ejercito said.
But Senator Manny Pacquiao defended the Presidential Communications Group, expressing satisfaction over its performance.
“Masipag naman sila. Ginagampanan ang trabaho nila. Nakikita naman natin. Dadaan naman sila sa parang cross examination dito sa Senate (They work hard and we can see that they’re doing their job. They will have to go through something like a cross-examination at the Senate anyway),” said Pacquiao.
The Senate has started its deliberations on the 2019 National Budget and vowed to thoroughly scrutinize the budget of PCOO and other government agencies facing corruption allegations.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday, meanwhile, appealed for lawmakers to consider the role of the PCOO as an office.
“Huwag naman po (Don’t be too hard) because PCOO is functioning also. It is providing an indispensable role. Kinakailangan po natin ang mensahe ng presidente makarating sa taumbayan at iyan po ang mandato ng PCOO (We need the President’s message to reach the people and that is the mandate of PCOO),” Roque said. – Nel Maribojoc / Marje Pelayo