The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) may only be six months old, but it can already boast of a formidable list of accomplishments in making information from the government more accessible to the public and the administration, closer to the people.
Here are some of the milestones PCOO has set since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office:
1. Launching the Freedom of Information online portal to improve public access to government data
The PCOO has ensured the landmark Executive Order on Freedom of Information that Duterte signed in July didn’t remain a piece of document. The office, led by Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, quickly went to work to build an online portal where anyone can request or access information from the government.
Though still in beta mode, the eFOI website is already online.
2. Creation of a presidential task force against media killings
To prove his concern for members of the media and belief in press freedom, Duterte in October signed Administrative Order No. 1 creating a Presidential Task Force against media killings. Andanar said among the responsibilities of the task force include ensuring a safe environment for media workers and probing cases of violence against members of the press.
3. Strengthening PCOO’s bilateral ties with Ministries of Information of the following countries: China, Japan, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam
In all of Duterte’s official overseas travels, Andanar took the opportunity to meet with officials from each of the countries’ Ministries of Information to know how the PCOO can partner with them. The result? Scholarships for PCOO’s staff to learn news broadcasting and management from partner countries.
4. Duterte OKs creation of People’s Broadcasting Corp. integrating Radyo ng Bayan and PTV-4
A People’s Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) similar to the United Kingdom’s British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) will soon no longer be just a dream after Duterte committed to sign into law a measure creating the PBC. The move will result in the integration of the state-run Radyo ng Bayan and PTV-4, paving the way for more efficient public broadcasting.
5. Mindanao Broadcast Hub’s construction to begin in 2017
In a bid to improve dissemination of government information in the provinces, Duterte approved the establishment of a Mindanao Broadcast Hub. It’s expected to be operational in a few years’ time since construction will already start in 2017
6. 87.5FM is now the government’s FM service
It’s not just music that can be heard on the FM radio waves, but public information too. This after the National Telecommunications Commission approved the Bureau of Broadcast Service’s request to use the 87.5 frequency as the government’s FM service.
7. Partnership with Facebook
Recognizing Facebook’s ubiquity and popularity, PCOO has partnered with the social media giant to stream almost all major activities of Duterte live.
8. Launch of Mula sa Masa, Para sa Masa tabloid
In a bid to bring the government closer to the people, the PCOO launched the Filipino-language Mula sa Masa, Para sa Masa tabloid containing the latest updates on the government’s programs, such as the campaign against illegal drugs.
9. Strengthening the Philippine News Agency through trainings, retooling
Don’t be surprised if the Philippine News Agency (PNA) becomes the wire agency to reckon with in the country in a few years’ time as the PCOO works to strengthen the organization. Among the improvements going on in the PNA include retraining for its personnel, retooling and realignment of objectives.
10. Integration of the three-headed presidential communication’s group into the PCOO
From being a three-pronged organization, the presidential communications group was merged into one stronger PCOO. This marks an improvement from the previous administration when the team was comprised of Presidential Communications Operations, the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning (PCDSP) and the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson.
11. Integration of social media influencers in news dissemination
PCOO’s use of social media influencers in letting the public know about what the government has been doing shows the medium can also be an avenue for information.