MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday questioned why a media consultant of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) is allegedly promoting a certain public official on social media.
During the PCOO’s budget hearing in the Senate, Drilon inquired about the functions of a media consultant hired by the PCOO and emphasized that PCOO is a public office and not a political organization.
“There is a media consultant that you hired and the Facebook of that media consultant states all of the activities of a particular public official, nothing to do with maintaining the positive reputation of the PCOO to the media community, nothing to do with that,” Drilon said.
“That particular media consultant was promoting a particular official, is that a valid way of spending public funds?” he quizzed PCOO Undersecretary Kris Ablan, who then enumerated the tasks of a PCOO media consultant.
According to Ablan, a PCOO media consultant is tasked to assist the secretary in various public relations functions and also “manages and maintains the positive reputation of the PCOO to the media community as well as to promote the best interest of the agency through media relations and performs other functions that may be assigned from time to time by the secretary.”
However, Drilon said that a particular media consultant of PCOO has been promoting a certain public official on Facebook. The senator did not name the media consultant nor the public official.
“Have you ever verified this, why is this happening? In other words, what I’m doing is to cite to you instances where we believe that public funds are being used for partisan politics,” the Senate minority leader said.
In response, Ablan said the PCOO will conduct an investigation on the matter.
“The media consultant has to follow the function and responsibilities as contained in the contract of service,” he said.
“We will conduct an investigation insofar as the private or personal Facebook page, we will look into whether or not it reaches over the person’s freedom of speech or if it falls within the parameters by the contract,” he added.
Drilon then reminded that officials of the PCOO are tasked to assume public functions.
“This is a public office, not a political organization,” the senator said.
The Senate finance subcommittee that tackled the PCOO budget recommended “with reservations” the agency’s proposed P1.91-billion funding for 2022 to the plenary.
The PCOO was asked to submit documents requested by senators, including those related to the hiring of people through various contracts of service.
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