House defers PCOO budget deliberation

The House of Representatives on Tuesday deferred the plenary deliberation on the proposed PHP1.59-billion budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) for 2021 over an undersecretary’s alleged persistent red-tagging of several lawmakers.


During the budget deliberation, Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante demanded that PCOO Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy issue an unconditional apology for her statements, as her “malicious terrorist tagging” of the Makabayan bloc lawmakers are “putting in jeopardy, not only the security, but more importantly the lives of sitting members of the House”.


Abante also called for the removal of Badoy, noting that her actions do not embody the “proper conduct” of a civil servant.


“These relentless attacks of Usec. Badoy through her social media platforms, which even incited her followers to issue threats of harm against sitting members of the House, are not acceptable to the Minority, and, we will not take it in stride or sitting down,” Abante said.


He added the House Minority stands united in the pursuit of peace and justice in the country.


“We uphold the Filipino core values and the exercise of basic human rights and liberties enshrined in our Constitution,” he said.


Abante said the PCOO should commit to take necessary and immediate measures to hold itself accountable.


“The PCOO should take down all social media posts that attack groups and individuals for criticizing government policies,” Abante said.


These demands were also stipulated in a signed manifesto by members of the House minority bloc.


For his part, House Committee on Appropriations vice chairman Jose Enrique Garcia, sponsor of the PCOO’s budget, maintained that the statements made by Badoy was her personal opinion and do not reflect that of the agency’s.


Earlier, PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar has refuted allegations that the government media platforms managed by the office and its attached agencies are being used to “red-tag,” or to accuse political groups and other organizations of links to terrorism.


Andanar stressed that such actions are not within the domain of the PCOO.


“The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and all its attached agencies is not the spokesperson of the NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict), or for the President on that matter. PCOO is a mere platform for the national government to use,” he said.


He said such information was not posted in PCOO’s official social pages, nor aired through state-owned People’s Television Network (PTV).


“It was a Facebook post of Undersecretary Badoy using her own Facebook page. It was not posted on the PCOO page which has 2 million followers. It was not even posted on PTV, which has more than 2 million followers,” he said, referring to the graphic presented by members of the Makabayan bloc about the alleged red-tagging.


Andanar assured that the proposed PHP1.59 billion 2021 budget for the PCOO will be spent to strengthen information dissemination, especially during this health crisis where the public needs to be informed on health protocols and government-led initiatives to curb the pandemic.


“Whatever the sentiments of our esteemed Usec. Badoy, she is given the right to answer. That is her own post on her page and that should not affect the rest of PCOO budget including the [attached] agencies’ budget,” he said.


Source: Philippines News Agency

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