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Secretary Martin Andanar, head of the PCOO

“After six years, I want PCOO to be in a state that is institutionally strong, that can run by itself, has a good institutional memory, a good future, and a strong state of mind,” says Secretary Martin Andanar, head of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) about the future of his department.

In an interview with the Philippine Information Agency, he shared the accomplishments that the President’s communication arm has achieved in its first six months and the “final picture” of how the PCOO would look like after next six years. 

Signing of Executive Order No. 2 or the Freedom of Information Executive Order

Transparency is the cornerstone of this government for the people. The PCOO has successfully asked the President to sign EO2, which empowers Filipinos to assert their right to information. “I’m proud to say that the signing of the EO is the work of the PCOO and we really worked hard to have that passed,” says the Secretary.

Creation of a Presidential Task Force to investigate media killings

Administrative Order No. 1 established the Presidential Task Force on the Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of the Members of the Media. “As a former media man, I give importance to the lives of my fellow media men. We were able to push for the signing of the President of the creation of the Presidential Task Force on Media Killings and the President, believing in the importance of freedom of speech signed it as his AO No.1,” he notes on the formation of the said group.

Upcoming Establishment of the People’s Broadcasting Corporation

“I was able to convince the President that it is very important for PTV and Radyo ng Bayan to be under one umbrella, which we will call the People’s Broadcasting Corporation,” the PCOO Head notes. The legislative push to support the creation of the PBC is now underway in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, with the help of Senator Loren Legarda and Congressman Alfred Vargas, respectively.

Supplemental Budget for Radyo ng Bayan

The PCOO Head noted that his office was able to ask for supplemental budget for Radyo ng Bayan, to build it further and upgrade its equipment to 87.5 FM nationwide. It’s a much awaited and long overdue update for the government-owned radio station . Although the Internet is widely available in the Philippines and almost half of Filipinos regularly go online, many parts of the country are still dependent on radio for news, general information, and even entertainment.

Groundbreaking of the Mindanao Broadcast Hub (will also function as the Emergency Broadcast Station)

In this Administration, the island of Mindanao will never be forgotten and will receive the information and media coverage it deserves. According to the Secretary Andanar, the communications group successfully convinced the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to reallocate PHP 700 million worth of capital outlay for PTV to create the Mindanao Broadcast Hub. The broadcast center will be located in Davao and since the city is relatively typhoon free, will also serve as the nation’s Emergency Broadcast Station.

Upcoming Privatization of IBC13

The Secretary noted that IBC 13 should be out in the market very soon, as he was able to successfully push for its privatization. The move will strategically streamline the government’s broadcast resources.

Reforms for the National Printing Office and APO Production Unit

“I intend to reform the NPO by ending the dispute of the NPO and APO Production Unit. We’ve formed a committee that would make sure that the jobs (from their government clients) would be equally distributed,” the Communications Secretary says. “I’ve ordered the NPO Director to make sure that when he leaves NPO in six years, he leaves it strong (make revenues increase, and make it self-sustaining).” Secretary Andanar also noted that with the help of the Department of Transportation, the NPO may soon produce license plates.

MOAs and Information Exchange to revitalize the Philippine News Agency

The PCOO aims to learn from other countries and institutions in its quest to revitalize its news departments, especially the Philippine News Agency. “PNA will be the News Agency,” Secretary Andanar notes. He envisions that someday other agencies will be dependent on the PNA for news and information.

In line with this, the PCOO signed an MOA with the People’s Republic of China. “They will be assisting us in upgrading the management know-how in running a TV station, a radio station as the other news agencies, Reuters,” says the Communications Secretary. In 2017, the PCOO’s broadcast arm will have its first information exchange with the BBC.

Making the Philippines News Agency competitive, at the very least half as strong as commercial news wire agencies, will remain a key priority.

When he was appointed as the President’s Communication Chief, he was told to bring back government media entities to its good old glory days. Asked how this would like, he answers:

“The final picture would be PTV will be the BBC of the country; it will be our NHK, our CCTV. We will raise the bar of news coverage, news delivery. PNA, Philippine Information Agency (PIA) will be the on-ground communications distribution network of the government. The over-arching vision of the PCO is to be able to deliver information and public policy through effective communication not just on air but also on ground.”

Secretary Andanar remarks that the Republic of the Philippines is also the “first government to stream and partner with Facebook 365 days a year, and stream the President’s activities and make it accessible to the public.”