PCOO budget approval stalled in House due to official’s red-tagging
MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on appropriations suspended on Wednesday the deliberations on the budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office “until further notice” as lawmakers denounced the red-tagging activities of one of its officials.
During the PCOO budget briefing, ACT-Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro confronted PCOO Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy for accusing the Makabayan lawmakers of being terrorists.
During the hearing, Castro showed screenshots of Badoy’s posts as well as posts of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTL-ELCAC) tagging the lawmakers as “high-ranking officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).”
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“Ito ay isang undersecretary, gamit ang pondo ng bayan, gamit ang kanyang posisyon. Threatened kami. ‘Pag tinagurian ka ng terorista, ni-redtag ka, kamatayan ang dala. Threatened ang aming buhay,” Castro said.
Castro wanted Badoy to answer these allegations first before the House proceeds with the deliberation on the PCOO budget, thus she moved to suspend the briefing.
Her motion was seconded by Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate who is also part of the Makabayan bloc.
“Kung ganoon lang mag-aakusa sa elected official at humihingi sila ng budget dito, we cannot allow that. This is not only an affront to us but an affront to our institution,” Zarate said.
“I take offense na gagamitin niya ang posisyon niya to attack our person and encourage trolls to attack us and even our family. You have to be responsible to your postings,” he added.
Asked for the PCOO’s side, Secretary Martin Andanar distanced his office from the issue and said NTF-ELCAC does not reflect that of the PCOO’s.
“The PCOO is a mere platform for the national government to use. The content does not come from the PCOO. We merely distribute the content. The NTF-ELCAC also creates their own content. But it is not distributed in the PCOO,” he said.
For Badoy’s post, Andanar said the PCOO undersecretary used her own Facebook page for her posts and not the PCOO’s.
“It was her own Facebook post using her own Facebook page. It was not posted on the PCOO’s page. Whatever our esteemed Undersecretary Badoy says, that is her own post on her page and that should not affect the rest of the PCOO’s budget, including the agencies’ budget,” Andanar added.
Badoy, who was present in the House plenary hall, was not given the chance to explain her side.
No lawmaker objected to the motion of Castro, thus the motion was carried and the hearing was suspended.
After the hearing was suspended, the acting committee secretary said the PCOO budget briefing is suspended “until further notice” and the next hearing “will be announced at a later date.
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