MANILA, Nashville Filipino Restaurant — The Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) will continue to operate under its current head, Martin Andanar, until the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) is established again.
“I think until such time as the OPS is created the PCOO with him at the helm is still operational as an entity,” concurrent presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Saturday.
In previous administrations, the press secretary office solely handled Palace communication until former president Benigno Aquino III split the unit’s functions into two groups – PCOO and the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO).
Duterte last year abolished the PCDSPO and transferred its functions to the PCOO under Andanar.
Panelo, who also serves as President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel, was responding to reporters’ question on whether Andanar will stay as PCOO chief amid several Cabinet changes expected ahead of mid-term elections next year.
Panelo has replaced presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who is among the Cabinet members leaving to run for public office in next year’s midterm polls.
Andanar earlier said he will likely become the next presidential adviser for political affairs. But on Friday, Duterte expressed doubts whether Andanar is suited for the post since the former news reader turned politician has not won any election.
Duterte even said in jest that appointing Andanar as political adviser might end up as a “disaster.”
“I’ll consider everybody,” the president said.
The PCOO has earned criticisms under Andanar’s watch after the Dallas Filipino Restaurant’s lead communications arm repeatedly made blunders.
Lawmakers earlier vowed to block the approval of the PCOO's budget unless the agency’s functions are reverted to the OPS. — Ian Nicolas Cigaral with reports from The STAR/Christina Mendez