Constitutional Law & Civil Rights

Federalism Info Drive yet to be finalized: PCOO Chief

Date: 06 August 2018; Type: Industry Updates; Source: Philippine News Agency

MANILA, Aug 6 (PNA) - The information drive on the benefits of federalism in the country is still being finalized, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said on Monday, stressing that other ways of promoting federalism were “unofficial.”

Andanar made the clarification following a viral video showing blogger Drew Olivar, co-host of PCOO Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson in Good News Game Show, singing and dancing while making vulgar gestures to raise awareness about federalism.

The song and dance number was criticized by netizens, lawmakers, and even members of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) which drafted the federal Constitution, particularly San Beda Graduate School of Law dean Fr. Ranhilio Aquino.

Aquino said there was no need for “advertisers” of federalism but “mentors, pedagogues, instructors, tutors and lecturers” to explain it.

Earlier, news that Uson was being tapped by ConCom spokesperson Ding Generoso to help the federalism information drive also raised eyebrows.

“Let me clarify that the engagement of Asec. Mocha to help in the federalism campaign did not come from the PCOO. The PCOO cannot decide on its own only. We have to cooperate with the inter-agency,” Andanar said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

The federalism inter-agency task force will be composed of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), PCOO, and ConCom, he added.

Andanar stressed that Uson’s supposed participation in the federalism information drive has been decided “between spokesperson Ding Generoso and Asec. Mocha” only.

The PCOO chief said he has already confronted Generoso about waiting for a “go signal” from both the federalism inter-agency task force and himself before seeking Uson’s help.

He said the communication plan is “still being finalized” and the inter-agency task force only met for a second time last week.

He said the final PHP90-million budget for the federalism campaign, where PHP10 million will be allocated for the PCOO, has not yet even been released.

“Hindi po official ito. Hindi pa po nagsisimula kasi wala pa pong memorandum of agreement. Wala pa pong MOA sa PCOO (This is not official. The campaign has not started because there’s no memorandum of agreement. There’s no MOA signed by the PCOO),” Andanar said.

Andanar, meanwhile, said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea himself was not pleased with talks Uson would be designated as the federalism inter-agency task force spokesperson even if these were not true.

“Sinabi sa’kin ni Exec. Secretary Bingbong (Salvador) Medialdea na kailangan natin ng mga spokespersons, talking heads na talagang eksperto sa subject na federalism (Exec. Secretary Bingbong Medialdea said we need spokespersons, talking heads who are really experts on federalism),” Andanar said.

“Na-badtrip siya doon sa fact na umiikot sa media na si Asec. Mocha nga ay yung spokesperson na hindi naman. Kasi wala namangapproval ang inter-agency. Puwede naman siya tumulong pero hindi official spokesperson (He was annoyed with the fact media is circulating that Asec. Mocha is the spokesperson when it’s not true. Because there’s no approval from the inter-agency. She can help but she’s not official spokesperson),” he added.

Andanar said he will soon talk to Uson to understand her intention for releasing the controversial video because he did not want to prejudge her.

“(I messaged) this morning, ‘I need to talk to you.’ But I’ve spoken to Ding Generoso. Siya kasi yung kumausap kay (Because he was the one who spoke to) Mocha. So therefore, it’s not official,” Andanar said.

“I have to know what was running in their minds. I don’t want to prejudge or say something without even talking to her or asking her what was that all about of the guy she was with. I think he’s a blogger. I have not met the guy. I’ll talk to Mocha about that. Once I’ve talked to Mocha, and once I get the explanation from her then we can talk again,” he added.

Andanar also admitted there was a “better way” to present federalism, particularly what was discussed during the inter-agency meetings.

To date, the inter-agency is considering creating comics, social media cards, radio advertisements, and perhaps a jingles to promote federalism awareness.

The PCOO chief also emphasized the best people to explain federalism where the people responsible for creating the federal Constitution.

“Alam naman natin na napakadaming eksperto diyan, napakadaming version. And what we are following is the version of the ConCom. So kung ang pinag-uusapan natin is version of the ConCom, e di sino yung pinakamagaling dito, e di yung gumawa mismo. Yung mga member ng Commission (We know there are many experts, many versions of federalism. And what we are following is the version of the ConCom. If we are talking about the version of the ConCom, who are the best people to explain it? The persons who made the federal Constitution),” Andanar said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, meanwhile, said although he thinks Uson had the “best intentions” in creating the viral federalism dance jingle, explaining federalism has to be in a more serious manner.

“I think Mocha Uson had the best of intentions kasi gusto niya talaga na mapag-usapan ang pederalismo ng mga tao na pang-araw-araw--yung mga mamamayan natin (because she really wanted federalism to be talked about as an everyday topic by our citizens),” Roque said.

“Pero siguro pag usapin ng pederalismo dapat siguro mas seryoso dahil ito po ay Saligang Batas, ang pinaka mataas na batas sa ating bayan (But perhaps, talks about federalism should be more serious because this is the Constitution, the highest law of the land),” he added.

Roque acknowledged that federalism should be explained in a language which could be easily understood by Filipino masses but challenged Uson to do so in a way that is more serious.

“Alam ko po kinakailangan maintindihan nila sa isang lenguwahe na maiintindihan, pero kanya-kanya po tayong istilo. Bagama’t dapat maging mas seryoso, gawin rin natin ito sa pamamaraan na maiintidhan. So ‘yan po ang paghahamon (I know we need to understand it in a familiar language, but we have our own approaches. Although we want it to be more serious, we also want to do it in a way that is most easily understood. That is the challenge),” Roque said.

Meanwhile, Generoso citing Uson said that she herself admitted she is not a designated spokesperson for federalism.

“There has never been any idea to make her a spokesperson. Having a particular spokesperson for federalism is not part of the information-dissemination program,” Generoso said in a press statement.

Generoso reiterated that what he meant by tapping Uson to help the federalism information drive is she could “perhaps write something about federalism in her column and blog or interview some people about federalism, which can help in raising public awareness about federalism.”

He emphasized that efforts to promote federalism would be in keeping with her official duties as assistant secretary of the PCOO.

The ConCom spokesperson, however, described the dance video as “unfortunate”, noting that it was not the proper way to present federalism.

“It is unfortunate that the video was posted day before our meeting with Ms. Uson last Friday together with the DILG communications group to clarify the matter and discuss how she could help in the info drive,” Generoso said.

“It is certainly not the way to present federalism. It is not part of the information campaign which is still being crafted, and the mechanics of which are still being finalized,” he added.

Generoso said the information campaign envisioned by the ConCom will tackle the benefits that federalism will bring to Filipinos, particularly those in the far-flung regions and provinces.

Uson has repeatedly denied being the federalism spokesperson, stressing that she was merely there to “help” push for federalism awareness on social media.

Olivar also defended his song and dance number, saying his critics were malicious for noticing such a small part of the video when there were also parts which provided “trivia” on federalism.

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