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PCOO wants additional P245M for activities vs. fake news

The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) has requested an additional P245-million budget to cover its media literacy program against fake news, Secretary Martin Andanar said Wednesday.

Andanar said this during the Senate finance subcommittee’s hearing on the PCOO’s proposed 2018 budget of P1.351 billion.

“We have already asked… about P245 million additional budget for the PCOO Proper and this will include activities on fake news that we would bring to the entire countryside,” Andanar said.

Andanar said his department was “drafting an activity that will talk on fake news through a media literacy program.”

He also said that he supported legislation that would fight the proliferation of fake news, adding that as far as he was concerned, media agencies under the PCOO do not propagate fake news.

Senator JV Ejercito, chairman of the subcommittee, said he would have wanted Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson to be present during the hearing to answer questions on fake news.

Uson is in New York to cover the acitivities of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano at the United Nations General Assembly.

Uson maintains a Facebook account called Mocha Uson Blog. Andanar said the posts of Uson in her Facebook account do not reflect the views of the PCOO.

“Siya mismo ang nagsabi na ang kanyang Facebook page sa kanya lamang at kung anong sasabihin niya, sariling opinyon at hindi reflective ng PCOO kaya meron siyang disclaimer doon at sabi niya, I duly insist na ganun 'yung magiging sistema,” Andanar explained.

“But then again, there’s also a debate: If you’re a political appointee, do you stop being political? We all know that Asec. Mocha Uson is a staunch supporter who will fight tooth and nail for the President and we have to give her that,” he added.

Uson, Andanar said, clearly enjoys the trust and confidence of President Rodrigo Duterte, even joining him in his trips to Marawi City.

Senator Nancy Binay, however, pointed out that Uson being a blogger could not be separated from her being a government official.

“Ang hirap i-separate na Mocha na private citizen at Mocha na Asec. How can you, Secretary Andanar, fight fake news kung may mga instances na nanggagaling mismo sa isang Asec? I guess yun yung magiging dilemma,” Binay said. —KBK, GMA News