MANILAA group of former editors and other staff members of the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) welcomed MalacaAang's plan of to abolish the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and replace it with the original department it superseded in 2010the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS).
This was gleaned from the replies to a question by this writer to the members of the ex-PNAers, a group composed of former editors, deskmen, reporters, photographers and other personnel who have either retired or transferred to other offices. A number of them are now based overseas.
As a retired executive editor and division chief of PNA under the News and Information Bureau (NIB) of the OPS, this writer asked some of them about their views on the proposal to revive the 23-year-old OPS, which was dismantled eight years ago by the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III.
In place of OPS, Aquino created the PCOO and the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO).
After eight years, the former PNAers hailed the proposed restoration of the old OPS, stressing it is very timely and long overdue.
For one, Ben Cal, who once served as acting executive editor and is now engaged in book writing, said in a text message to this writer: It is great to hear about the proposed revival of the Office of the Press Secretary. It's about time!
Cal joined the PNA as a reporter a year after the agency's birth under the former Department of Public Information (DPI) in 1973. He retired about eight years ago after covering MalacaAang for PNA during the entire term of President Fidel V. Ramos (1992-1998). He also covered Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame since Ramos' stint as chief of the former Philippine Constabulary, predecessor of the present Philippine National Police.
Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist, television program host and radio broadcaster Ramon Tulfo said he favors the abolition of the PCOO and the revival of the OPS to better streamline the government's communication operations. Tulfo was also a former deskman of the PNA before he transferred years later to the former Philippine Times Journal and then to the Manila Bulletin.
Alito L. Malinao, former PNA foreign news editor and later chief editor of the Presidential News Desk (PND) under the OPS in MalacaAang, in a commentary published by the Inquirer on Oct. 11, said: For those of us who were closely associated with the old Office of the Press Secretary, the plan of MalacaAang to revive the OPS is a welcome development. In fact, it is long overdue.
He recalled that he was saddened, if not extremely disappointed, when former President Benigno Aquino III abolished the OPS through Executive Order No. 4 upon his assumption of office in 2010.
For a backgrounder, the reorganization of the old OPS was done in Executive Order No. 297, signed on July 25, 1987 by then President Corazon C. Aquino, with the primary functions of formulating and implementing an integrated program of information and developmental communication that will present the work of the presidency, develop public understanding of activities, policies, and enhance public trust and support at the national, regional, and barangay level.
Section 13 of EO 297 provides, among others:
The following agencies in the Office of the Press Secretary are hereby reorganized:
The Bureau of Broadcasts and Radyo ng Bayan are hereby merged into the Bureau of Broadcast Services.
The Presidential Press Staff and the sub-offices under it, Philippine News Agency and its national offices, and the International Press Center are hereby merged into the News and Information Bureau (NIB).
The Bureau of National and Foreign Information (BNFI) is hereby reorganized and renamed as the Bureau of Communications Services (BCS).
Under Section 16 of the same EO, the NIB shall be responsible for providing efficient, effective, productive, and economical services relating to the development and formulation of a domestic and foreign information program for the government, in general, and the presidency, in particular, including the development of strategies for the dissemination of information on specific government programs.
The NIB consists of the PNA, Presidential Press Staff (PPS), Media Accreditation and Relations Division (MARD), and International Press Center (IPC).
The NIB is headed by a director and assisted by an assistant director, both to be appointed by the President, upon the recommendation of the press secretary.
At present, the PCOO is headed by Secretary Martin Andanar, who also has been reported as welcoming the proposed reversion of his department to OPS, since it could also revive certain functions of the OPS that were lost when it turned into the PCOO.
The reason why I want to revert it to the Office of the Press Secretary is that apart from the reorganization, there are some functions of the Office of the Press Secretary that were slowly lost along the way, Andanar was quoted as saying in an earlier PNA report. He cited the presence of press attaches as an example of functions that the previous administration removed.
We don't have any press attache. For example, the United States, they have a press attache here, Andanar said.
I've asked the embassies overseas, in different missions, and they are all one in saying that they lack the staff also, so it's difficult for them to handle communications for the government. And I believe that the Office of the Press Secretary should be able to bring this position back on the table, he said.
Heading the NIB now is Director Virginia Arcilla-Agtay. She is assisted in running the editorial operations of PNA by a team of editors led by PNA acting executive editor Luis A. Morente. Andanar had earlier designated PCOO Undersecretary Joel M. Sy Egco as supervising editor for PNA operations. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency