Drilon questions legality of PCOO’s social media office
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday questioned the legality of the creation of a social media office under the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) only by virtue of a department order.
An office can only be created through law, Drilon said during the PCOO’s budget hearing in the Senate.
“You are arrogating to yourself a function or a power reserved to Congress and we have not delegated that power to you. How do you legally justify the creation of an office under a department order,” the minority leader said.
PCOO Undersecretary Kris Ablan confirmed that the agency created the said office in 2017.
“The creation of this office is just internal to the PCOO in so far as it designates an assistant secretary to lead the media office,” Ablan told senators.
“The office has already been superseded or replaced by the Office of the Undersecretary for New Media,” he added.
But Drilon argued that the creation of an office “can never be internal to a department” since public funds are used.
Further, the senator said that the creation of undersecretary positions can only be done through a law or by virtue of the administrative code.
“Is the creation of an office legally feasible under a department order. Now you have elevated this into the Office of the Undersecretary, [this] makes your situation worse,” Drilon pointed out.
Ablan maintained that the creation of the social media office in 2017 was “in order,” saying the PCOO secretary can create an ad hoc office.
Drilon asked Ablan to provide the Senate “legal justification which would empower a Secretary to create an office through a department order.”
“I have been a lawyer for 50 years, involved in public law for the last three decades but I am not aware that a department secretary can create an office to appoint personnel by virtue of a department order,” the senator added.
Ablan said the PCOO will submit the proper documents to the Senate.