PCOO defends P976.2-M budget for 2011

September 9, 2010 10:12 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Sept. 8 — In line with President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III's thrust on fiscal prudence, the government’s new communications group — the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), presented on Wednesday its P976.2 million budget for 2011 at the budget hearing of the committee on appropriations of the House of Representatives.

PCOO chief Secretary Herminio "Sonny" Coloma, during the budget hearing, said the P976.2 million budget for 2011 is P184 million or 15.86 percent less than the present P1.16 billion budget of the defunct Office of the Press Secretary (OPS).

He said they will follow President Aquino’s directives for each government department to reduce their proposed budget and discontinue unnecessary spending for next year.

When members of the House appropriations committee asked the PCOO chief to explain the function of the new communications group, Coloma said that his office assumed the role of the OPS with the issuance of the Executive Order No. 4 that reorganized and renamed OPS into PCOO.

The PCOO has the control and supervision of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), government television and radio stations, News and Information Bureau (NIB), National Printing Office (NPO), among others. including the Philippines News Agency (PNA).

EO 4 also created the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning (PCDSPO) which is headed by Secretary Ramon Carandang.

Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros Magsaysay questioned how the PCOO would function better if it has no adequate funds, adding there might be confusion to have Coloma, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Carandang at the same time.

In response, Coloma said he will take notice of the suggestion and would relay it to the President.

On the other hand, House Minority Leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman questioned Coloma if the government committed blunder when it did not exercise prior restraint in the August 23 Quirino Grandstand hostage crisis, citing international protocol on hostage crisis, the PCOO chief said, "I respect your view," but "President Aquino is against controlling the media."

"The policy of this administration is not to impose any prior restraint to the exercise of freedom of the press and expression your honor," he said.

Coloma stressed the present administration does not believe in silencing media, and instead wants journalists practice self-restraint, self-discipline, and self-regulation when covering crises similar to the August 23 Manila hostage-taking drama.

Meanwhile, the PCOO chief also announced plans to privatize two government sequestered television stations — RPN-9 and IBC-13.

He said the privatization will be clear and beneficial to the government and accordance with the law. (PNA)



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