Senators chide PCOO for hiring ‘trolls,’ ask for records
MANILA, Philippines — Several senators questioned the hiring of some 1,476 contract of service (COS) workers, or what one lawmaker insisted to calling “trolls” in the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), prompting them to direct the agency to submit records of the said employees.
“Ilan ba ang trolls mo? [How many are your trolls?]” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked one PCOO executive during Thursday’s budget hearing of the PCOO in the Senate as he opened the topic of the agency’s personnel.
But the PCOO denied that the agency is hiring trolls before informing senators that the agency has a total of 1,479 COS workers.
“Wala po kaming troll [We don’t have any trolls],” said PCOO Undersecretary Kris Ablan.
“Siyempre ‘di mo aaminin [Of course you won’t admit it],” Drilon said in response.
“Maghahanap pa ako ng ebidensiya na you are hiring trolls [I will find evidence that you are hiring trolls],” the minority leader added in jest.
Drilon flagged the hiring of 1,479 COS workers when the PCOO has 1,776 unfilled plantilla positions.
Earlier in the hearing, Ablan said the PCOO has a total of 3,883 plantilla positions, 2,107 of which have been filled as of August 31 this year,
“Don’t you find this a little odd, you have 1,776 vacancies but you hired 1,476 contract of service or what we call trolls,” Drilon pointed out.
“Why can’t you hire and fill up your unfilled positions?” the senator asked.
Senators Richard Gordon and Imee Marcos also questioned the hiring of the COS workers.
“I find it strange that your hiring a lot more people in terms of proportion,” Gordon, who is leading the budget hearing, said.
For her part, Marcos said she was puzzled as to why the PCOO is seeking an increase in budget allocation for regular employees when it has over 1,000 unfilled plantilla posts.
“Nalilito nga ako…’di nga ma-fillupan bakit dadagdagan pa [I’m confused, the regular positions can’t even be filled up but they are asking for an increase],” she said.
Gordon then asked the PCOO to submit all records pertaining to the agency’s COS workers.
“All the names of all these and the records of these so-called ‘contracts of trolls’ ba ‘yon? Contract of service,” Gordon said.
Drilon added that the address, education attainment, and the job description of these hires also be submitted.
“Just an additional, can they also submit their attendance sheet if they report in the office of the PCOO proper or the other offices?,” Senator Nancy Binay, meanwhile, said.
Ablan said the PCOO will comply with the requests of the senators.
“We’ll give you more detailed report and we’ll submit it to the secretariat,” PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar told senators.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.