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Cheloy Garafil gets CA nod as PCO chief

The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday confirmed the ad interim appointment of lawyer Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil as secretary of the Presidential Communications Office.

In sponsoring Garafil's appointment during the plenary session, Negros Oriental 2nd district Representative Manuel Sagarbarria described the PCO head as an "eloquent and well-seasoned lawyer" as well as a "committed public servant."

Senator Loren Legarda, who co-sponsored Garafil's appointment, pointed out that Garafil's appointment in the PCO would pave the way for a more transparent and accountable governance.

In her opening statement during the CA panel hearing, Garafil pointed out that as a former member of the media and public relations practitioner, she knew the importance of the PCO to communicate to the public the programs of the Marcos administration.

"Bilang isang dating journalist at public relations practitioner, batid ko kung gaano kahalaga ang papel ng PCO sa pagsiguro na maipahatid sa ating publiko ang tamang impormasyon ukol sa mga programa at polisiya ng gobyerno," Garafil said.

(As a former journalist and public relations practitioner, I know the importance of PCO in ensuring that the programs and policies of the government will be delivered to the public.)

"I know that serving as PCO Secretary will be a tough endeavor. In a time where information is readily available at the click of a finger, there is also a proliferation of fake news. We at PCO will have to make sure and likewise watch ourselves to ensure that we only share facts and truths," she added.

Fake news not tolerated

Asked by Senator Risa Hontiveros what was her stand and plans on fake news, Garafil vowed that her office would not tolerate any form of misinformation.

"Actually talagang ina-abhor po namin ang fake news. In fact in the past several days, madami po din fake news na naranasan po ang PCO at mga members of the Office of the President. Kaya talaga po isa ito sa lalabanan po natin sa aking termino bilang Secretary ng PCO," she said.

(We abhor fake news. In the past days, the PCO and members of the Office of the President became victims of fake news. That's why we will really fight against fake news under my term as PCO Secretary.)

Hontiveros also inquired about the accreditation of vloggers to become part of the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC). The former journalist reiterated that the matter is still being studied.

"Ang pag-accredit po sa mga vlogger ay patuloy po nating pinagaaralan, kasama po 'yan sa ating mga programa na pinagaaralan po ngayon..." Garafil said.

(The accreditation of vloggers is still being studied.)

She also mentioned the media literacy campaign that would be launched by the PCO this year as part of the latter's efforts in combating fake news. Garafil said the PCO would include Facebook, Youtube, and other social media sites in this project.

"Kaya nga po katulad ng sinabi ko kanina, nagkakaroon po kami ngayon ng pag-aaral, i-lalaunch po natin within the year ang ating media literacy campaign para po maturuan ang ating publiko para pagdetect ng fake news," Garafil said.

(Just like what I have said earlier, we will launch a media literacy campaign to teach the public about detecting fake news.)

In an interview with reporters prior to the CA hearing, Garafil vowed that the PCO, under her watch, would always be transparent in all its duties.

"We will always try to be truthful and transparent in all our articles, in all our efforts... for the... public dissemination pa rin and of course, para pa rin sa ating Pangulo," Garafil said.

In June 2022, Garafil was appointed to lead the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

She also served as service director at the Committee on Rules of the House of Representatives. Garafil also became a prosecutor for the Department of Justice and State Solicitor for the Office of the Solicitor General.

Further, she previously served as director who handled media affairs during Senior Deputy Speaker and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's stint as Speaker of the House of Representatives. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News