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Senators question PCOO’s ‘academy for propaganda’

/ 02:10 PM September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senators questioned on Thursday funding for the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO)’s academy in Bukidnon, which Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said is an “academy for propaganda.”

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“What is this government-operating communications academy in Bukidnon where you have a budget of P50 million?” Drilon inquired during the Senate committee on finance hearing.

“What is this? You have an academy to teach propaganda?” he added, noting that it is not urgent.

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In response, Andanar said: “It’s an academy that will give the tools, give the knowledge, apply the skills of our information officers across the archipelago. It is an academy that is working with the Development Academy of the Philippines, the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, and also the Northern Bukidnon State College.”

According to Andanar, the project has a capital outlay of P79 million and they will need P50 million more for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE).

Citing that the government needs more funds for COVID response, Drilon asked if the project could be deferred for 2023.

“Mr. Secretary, I think a rational assessment will tell you that these are not urgent projects — putting up a building to house an academy for propaganda and having P50 million again for propaganda?” he said.

“We have been hearing the budget here for the past several days now. It is very obvious that we need funds because of the COVID response requirements. Every single peso of our resources, dapat ang ating unahin ‘yung COVID, hindi po ba? Dapat mauna ‘yan, yung mga bakuna. Don’t you think we can defer this academy for 2023?” Drilon asked.

Andanar said that the project was already delayed as it was supposed to be started in 2020 when the pandemic started. However, Andanar said he is open to consideration.

“You do have a good point, chairman. It should be considered, especially the MOOE,” Andanar said.

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Drilon noted Andanar’s consideration and said that the government will prioritize COVID-19 for next year’s budget.

Senator Richard Gordon also reiterated his disagreement with the project.

“When you become a journalist, you should be a graduate from schools who offer Mass Communication degrees,” Gordon said.

Aside from the Bukidnon project, an allocation was made for the construction of a Visayas media hub with a P200-million capital outlay which the senators also questioned.

The Visayas media hub is planned to be located in Mandaue, Cebu, and will complement the Mindanao media hub in Davao and the PCOO main broadcasting office in Quezon City

Senator Nancy Binay meanwhile recognized the value of the media hubs but said health should be prioritized “over anything else.”

“While we do not dismiss the value of these hubs, we have increasingly diminishing resources which we should dedicate towards our fight against COVID-19,” Binay expressed.

“Sana ang mga ganitong construction projects na hindi urgent, ibuhos na lang natin sa mga ospital na nabawasan pa ang alokasyon imbes na dapat dagdagan,” she added.

(I hope that funds for these construction projects that are not urgent would be given to hospitals that have suffered allocation cuts.)

RELATED STORIES:

PCOO reduces 375 hired ‘contractuals’ to 301, ‘many’ up for regularization

PCOO assures anew: No hiring of ‘trolls’

PCOO’s hiring of numerous ‘social media specialists’ included in Senate ‘troll farm’ probe

/MUF

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TAGS: Bukidnon, Franklin Drilon, Martin Andanar, media academy, PCOO
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