House panel defers PCOO budget briefing

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MANILA – The House Committee on Appropriations on Wednesday deferred the deliberations on the proposed PHP1.59-billion 2021 budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office’s (PCOO) over the supposed “red-tagging” of Makabayan bloc lawmakers by one of the agency’s officials.

ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro raised the motion to suspend the PCOO’s budget hearing due to Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy’s recent statement accusing her and other Makabayan lawmakers as “high-ranking officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF)”.

Badoy also serves as the spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Castro’s motion was seconded by Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate who is also part of the Makabayan bloc.

In response, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Badoy’s remarks were done using her own social media account and not of the PCOO’s, thus not reflecting the position of the agency.

“It was a Facebook post of Undersecretary Badoy, using her own Facebook page. It was not posted on the Presidential Communications Operations Office’s page which has 2 million followers. It was not even posted on PTV, which has more than 2-3 million followers, or the Philippine News Agency,” Andanar said.

“Whatever our esteemed USec. Badoy, if she’s given the right to answer, that is her own post on her own page,” he added.

He said Badoy’s post should not affect the rest of the PCOO budget, including the budget of its attached agencies, since its role is crucial in disseminating information, especially during this coronavirus pandemic.

“I cannot imagine not having any budget to help the national government, every Filipino, to disseminate the correct, the right information,” he added.

Badoy, who was also present during the hearing, was not able to explain her side.

No lawmaker objected to Castro’s motion, and the budget briefing of the PCOO was suspended “until further notice”. -PNA

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