MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday signed an executive order reconstituting the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson (OPS) to harmonize the functions of the communications offices under the Office of the President (OP).
Under Executive Order (EO) No. 111, the OPS “is hereby reconstituted under the OP” and shall be headed by a Presidential Spokesperson, who shall have the rank and emoluments of a Cabinet Secretary.
“The Presidential Spokesperson may be assisted by a deputy spokesperson and an assistant spokesperson, who shall serve in a coterminous capacity,” the EO read.
The EO also abolishes the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO).
“All agencies, bureaus and offices previously attached to the PCDSPO under EO No. 4 are retained and shall remain under the offices having actual supervision and jurisdiction over them,” it said.
The OPS forms part of the national government’s communications arm, while, the PCDSPO serves as the President’s chief message-crafting body.
The OPS shall review and modify, as may be necessary, its existing organizational structure and staffing pattern to effectively and efficiently carry out the functions prescribed herein, it added.
The new organizational structure and staffing pattern shall be subject to the approval of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), except for positions which are beyond the authority of DBM to approve, or unless the President opts to exercise such approving authority directly.
Powers and functions of the OPS include discharging the function of speaking for the President on matters pertaining to his actions, policies, programs, official activities and accomplishments, coordinating and cultivating relations with private mass media entities, and providing news and information to the public by utilizing relevant mass media and other emerging platforms.
The OPS will also be in charge of developing and implementing necessary guidelines and mechanisms pertaining to the dissemination of information on the policies, programs, official activities and achievements of the President, communication with the Filipino people as well as with foreign media; the status of programs and projects undertaken; provide a mechanism to address special concerns of the OP for better, and submit periodic reports to the President, among others.
The OPS and Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) shall coordinate on all activities when the nature is directly relevant to the functions of both.
“There is a need to update and harmonize the functions of the said communication offices under the OP to ensure the efficient and effective performance of their common mandate, and to streamline the release of relevant information to the public,” the EO read.
The funds for the initial operation of the OPS shall be sourced from the available funds of the OP while appropriations for succeeding years shall be incorporated in the OP’s annual budget proposal.
On April 23, Roque was tasked to lead the government’s information dissemination on the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Roque confirmed this in a virtual presser, explaining that Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea authorized only him and Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire to speak on behalf of the government.
He said he had no knowledge about the basis of Medialdea’s decision.
“The memo said po that the only authorized person to speak on behalf of government are, number one, the Presidential Spokesperson; and number two, Usec. Vergeire of the DOH for health-related matters,” he said.
After taking his oath on April 14, Roque returned to the Cabinet succeeding former Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.
Asked why Roque was reappointed, Panelo said “the present crisis requires a new tack in messaging”. (ia/PNA)