Senate panel OKs PCO, PLLO proposed 2024 budget

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 18) — The Senate finance committee on Monday approved the over ₱2 billion proposed 2024 budget of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) and the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO).

The PCO and PLLO sought ₱1.91 billion and ₱103.8 million budgets, respectively.

During the budget deliberation, PCO Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil reported that PCO has 366 positions due to the reorganization of the agency.

The office has been criticized earlier in social media for its numerous undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and directors.

READ: Marcos reorganizes Office of the President, renames Office of the Press Secretary

"Napunta po lahat ng information-related agency under the PCO kaya napunta sa amin ang RTVM (Radio Television Malacañang), BCS (Bureau of Communications Services), pati rin yung FOI (Freedom of information)," Grafil said.

"Lumawak din yung function namin kasi part of our function is yung presidential engagements," she added.

[Translation: All of the information-related agencies are now under the PCO, which is why RTVM, PCS and FOI are now under our agency. Our function also broadened since we also manage presidential engagements.]

Senator Jose Victor Ejercito, who was presiding over the meating, asked if the 1,479 contractual employees of the office under the previous administration still existed. He noted some sentors who saw them as trolls.

"Mr. Chair, for the record, wala po kaming (we have no) troll. No troll farm, no troll army," Garafil stated.

Garafil said her office has one project-based contractual worker while the plantilla of 111 employees of PCO have yet to be approved by the Department of Budget and Management.

During the hearing, Grafil also said the agency aims to finish the construction of two media hubs in Mandaue City and Bukidnon before the end of 2023.

PCO is also planning to convert one of its four channels into a disaster network that has weather and disaster preparedness and mitigation coverages, Grafil added.

Meanwhile, Ana Puod, general manager of People's Television Network, said the agency is also looking into converting 16 analog transmitters into digital transmitters, which cost ₱25 million each.

Call for moderation

During the deliberation on the PLLO budget, Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel flagged the issuance of the Presidential Certification of Necessity and Urgency for 4 of the 14 Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council's pending measures.

These priorities are the Internet Transaction Bill, Public-Private Partnership Bill, and Agri-Smuggling Bill and PNP Restructing Bill.

"Sana hinay-hinay tayo sa issuance of presidential certification dahil may requirement ang constitution," Pimentel said. "Ang sabi sa constitution, there is a necessity of meeting a public calamity or emergency.'

[Translation: I hope the issuance of presidential certification will be done in moderation since the constitution has a requirement that states that there is a necessity to meet a public calamity or emergency.]