Fake news, red-tagging: House defers debates on proposed 2022 budget of PCOO
MANILA, Philippines — Raising issues of “fake news” and red-tagging, the House of Representatives deferred Thursday debates on the proposed budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).
In her interpellation, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas inquired about the PCOO’s move to hire 375 “contract of service” (COS) personnel in 2020 which was flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA).
Critics speculate that the personnel were hired as “trolls” on social media, a claim that PCOO has denied.
Zamboanga City 2nd District Rep. Manuel Jose Dalipe, who was defending the budget of PCOO, said that the additional COS personnel were hired due to the lack of regular positions available in the agency.
However, Brosas pointed out that accomplishment reports of the COS personnel are only the same with one another, with only their names and period of service changed.
Dalipe responded: “We will evaluate all of the accomplishment reports.”
Brosas was unsatisfied with the response and pointed out that COS accomplishment reports were not reflective of the actual duties and tasks of the personnel.
“The same accomplishments were repetitively reported every month and the accomplishment of COS personnel with similar designations were exactly the same with one another. Only the name and the period covered are being changed,” Brosas said.
The PCOO has a proposed budget of P801.74 million for 2022. Brosas expressed fears that these funds will be used again to hire COS personnel
“Sa gitna ng laganap na misinformation at fake news na madalas mismong gobyerno pa ang nagpapakalat, napakahirap ng ganito,” Brosas said.
(In the middle of prevalent misinformation and fake news, which frequently come from the government itself, this is a difficult situation.)
“Walang kasiguraduhan na ang budget na hinihingi ng PCOO mula sa kaban ng bayan ay hindi ilalaan sa pagpapakalat ng fake news at red tagging,” she added.
(We are not assured that the budget being asked by PCOO will not be used to spread fake news and red-tagging.)
In the end, Brosas formally moved to defer debates on the budget of PCOO, which the House approved.
“From spreading fake news to hiring suspected internet trolls, we are afraid that this budget will only be used to spread misinformation to favor Duterte in the upcoming 2022 national elections,” Brosas said.
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