MANILA The House of Representatives deferred early Tuesday its plenary consideration on the proposed PHP1.474-billion budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) for 2019.
The House plenary started tackling the PCOO budget past 12 a.m. but suspended its consideration around 1:00 a.m.
PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar and other key PCOO officials attended the agency's budget deliberation.
It was, however, upon the motion of ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro to defer the plenary deliberation due to the absence of PCOO Assistant Secretary Esther Margaux "Mocha" Uson.
Castro said she has several questions to ask Uson, noting that the PCOO official was also absent during the committee deliberation of the agency's budget last Sept. 6.
"Napansin ko po wala po 'yung presence ni Asec. Mocha Uson... marami po akong katanungan (I've noticed that the presence of Asec. Mocha Uson is not here... I have a lot of questions)," Castro said.
ParaAaque City Rep. Eric Olivarez, sponsor of the PCOO budget, said Uson is currently out of the country to accompany Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano in his "official visit to the United States".
In sponsoring the budget, Olivarez said the PCOO is proposing a PHP1.474-billion budget for next year to deliver its commitment as the premier arm of the Executive Branch in engaging and involving the citizenry and the mass media in order to enrich the quality of public discourse on all matters of governance and build a national consensus.
"We have the assurances of Secretary Andanar that the resources shall be judiciously and creatively used to communicate the messages of the President and his government to the people," Olivarez said.
Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman questioned how the agency is campaigning for federalism and addressing the roadblocks that the country's economic managers have identified, particularly concerning fiscal issues.
Olivarez explained that while the PCOO has been appointed as the communications arm for the federalism campaign, it merely acts as a "facilitator" among the concerned agencies "in promoting the idea of federalism in our country."
It was reported that the inter-agency task force on federalism is composed of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), PCOO, Commission on Higher Education, and Consultative Committee tasked to review the 1987 Constitution.
"It is the DILG, and the inter-agencies that will thresh out the differences. And, the job of PCOO is to disseminate information to the public," Olivarez said.
Olivarez further explained that the PCOO provides the platform to promote federalism by producing shows and broadcasting live the various fora and press briefings about it.
The PHP1.474-billion budget for next year reflects a 2.75 percent increase of PHP39.434 million, compared to this year's budget of PHP1.435 billion.
The PCOO budget shall be distributed as follows: PCOO proper PHP360.988 million; Bureau of Broadcast Service P396.967 million; Bureau of Communications Service PHP37.186 million; National Printing Office P11.499 million; News and Information Bureau PHP124.677 million; Philippine Information Agency PHP337.486 million; and Radio TV MalacaAang PHP205.180 million. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency