P1.41-B OPS budget tentatively approved at Senate.
By Mario Casayuran
A Senate finance sub-committee chaired by Senator Joseph Victor '''JV'' Ejercito tentatively approved yesterday the proposed 2019 P1.41-billion budget for the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) that will replace the current Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and its attached agencies.
Ejercito made the announcement after a briefing by Ruperto Martin M. Andanar, PCOO Secretary, and heads of the PCOO attached agencies on their performances and their preparation for the transition from the PCOO that started during the Benigno Aquino III administration to the old OPS structure.
What is now being awaited is the signing by President Duterte of an Executive Order, dissolving the PCOO and creating the OPS.
Ejercito expressed confidence that a reversion to the old communications set up at Malacanang might improve the image of the national government.
Once that good image is established, investors' confidence would take place, he added.
Ejercito said Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III had floated the idea of bringing back the OPS and streamlining the office that communicates Malacanang's messages to make it more effective.
During the budget hearing, Andanar said his office is preparing a transition team from the PCOO to the OPS.
Once that is done, the team would set up a Global Media Affairs Division (GMAD), an event that would make the transition easier and the handover of the entire PCOO that would eventually become the OPS, he added.
The Press Secretary would become the President's spokesman, he said.
Under the GMAD, Andanar said press attaches would be created and established in key cities in the world such as the United States, United Kingdom, Paris, Israel, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Thailand and Singapore.
Ejercito said he favors the reversion of the old OPS structure.
He said the Philippines had a press attache in Australia 20 years ago and this was during the presidency of his father, Joseph ''Erap'' Estrada.
Although the OPS will have a very slight increase in its budget, it would be a challenge to the OPS to make do, he added.
He said final approval by his office of the OPS budget and its attached agencies depends on the submission of its new structure and the approval by the President of an EO creating the OPS.
Issuance by the President of the EO is expected later this month before the Senate goes on final floor debate for the proposed 2019 P3,757-trillion national budget.
Senator JV Ejercito (Tony Pionilla / MANILA BULLETIN)