A round table discussion with PCO Secretary Martin Andanar

Presidential Commission Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar met with Blog Watch and Mae Paner to discuss about the changes in the PCO and our concerns. When we first met on June 17, 2016,  plans to engage with bloggers included a monthly discussion with the Communications secretary. There are many things to consider if bloggers and social media will play a more relevant role , so the first few meetings are exploratory.

Changes under the Communications office.

This is what PCO Secretary discussed with us on July 16, 2016 as summarized by Jane Uymatiao.

1. Integrate PTV-4 and Radyo ng Bayan into People’s Broadcasting Corporation (PBC)

2. Collapse the Presidential Communications Operation Office (PCCO), Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO), and the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson into one unit, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) and shrinking from 7 Usecs to 4 Usecs
3. Put up broadcast hubs in Visayas and Mindanao

4. Establish an emergency broadcast protocol with Davao as the rational location (less hit by typhoons + first Muslim channel & Lumad channel will be put up there)

5. Re proposed National Communications Policy, institutionalize the communications process that will make the flow of information from one executive department to the other line agencies as smooth and seamless as possible.

6. Assign one Philippine Information Agency (PIA) officer per department to handle crisis communications professionally.

Sec. Andanar plans this as a monthly National Conversation. He said “The reason we need a National Conversation every month and continuously for the next three or six years, the usual failure of government is that it loses touch with the realities in life,”

Jane Uymatiao agrees ” with the listening part early on in an administration. The earlier you listen, the earlier and faster you can act so that benefits of your actions are still felt within your administration.”

meeting with sec andanar

Citizen Concerns: Extrajudicial killings have to stop

We also discussed our concerns with Sec Andanar. My number one concern is extrajudicial killings, even before Duterte was president. The number of killings escalated. All of us agreed it is our major concern. The daily drug killings and violations of the human rights of people suspected of being drug pushers or users is a major concern. How can that be best communicated in the sense that we are not against Duterte’s anti drugs drive? The killings are not delineated from the police operations, drug cartels, vigilantes. There is always a gun and a sachet of Shabu beside the victim. This goes back to Duterte. I added that I continue to affirm the President inaugural message where he stressed that he will adhere to due process and rule of law in fighting drugs and criminality upon taking his oath of office as the 16th president of the country . It is bothersome to really see that it is different now from before. The killings now are so much more today. What people are saying are the Davao Death squad must be true because now it is nationwide.

The killings have to stop. No matter how good the Duterte administration plans are, the extrajudicial killings will overshadow this. The ones left behind like the mothers, wives and family members are suffering from the loss of their loved ones. We are trying to create a reform mindset. Let these people undergo rehab and be reformed so they can good citizens.

Other concerns include the possible appointment of Freddie Aguilar as head of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

Secretary Andanar says , “So far ang apppointment ni Freddie Aguilar to NCCA is tsismis pa lang. There is no official word to PCO. Kanino ba talaga galing ang balita and sino ang source?”

On the fight against the drug menance, Sec Martin Andana says “We are the biggest market of shabu in the world.” There are 1.8 million drug dependents in the country (a conservative estimate). View the video for more.

Change is also coming during the First State of the Nation address. Dress code for the ladies on President Duterte’s 1st SONA is Filipiniana/business attire, 2 inches below the knee and not a full length gown. No more mala-Oscar’s fashion show.

Let’s see what happens in the coming months. For the August meeting we will be live on Facebook and Twitter. We will announce the date soon and we will continue to do follow-ups to all these changes that Sec. Andanar told us. Let me just say that Jane and I believe this is a great first step towards a two-way government-citizen “thin” engagement of the kind that we learned when we took World Bank’s first course run on Citizen Engagement.

Videos are from Dine Racoma.

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Blog Watch receives the “Best Story” Award for the First Data Journalism PH 2015 from the Open Knowledge Foundation and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism “Aid Monitoring: Citizens’ Initial Efforts in the Wake of Typhoon Yolanda” . Forbes Philippines also garnered the same award.

Blog Watch receives the “Best Story” Award for the First Data Journalism PH 2015 from the Open Knowledge Foundation and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism  for their story on “Aid Monitoring: Citizens’ Initial Efforts in the Wake of Typhoon Yolanda” . Forbes Philippines also received the same award.

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