Duterte's PR guy in 2016 polls may get P900K stint with finance dept

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 21 2021 02:26 PM | Updated as of Jun 21 2021 06:06 PM

But Gabunada says he has yet to ink deal

MANILA (UPDATE) - The public relations consultant who served as President Rodrigo Duterte's social media strategist in the 2016 elections said on Monday that he has yet to sign a contract with the Department of Finance (DOF) after details about it were published. 

Several media organizations earlier reported that Nic Gabunada had been awarded a P909,122.40 six-month contract by the DOF to serve as its social media strategist. 

The DOF has yet to reply to requests for comment on why it awarded the contract to an individual who had been tagged by Facebook for violating its community standards.

In 2019, Facebook took down 67 Facebook Pages, 68 Accounts, 40 Groups, and 25 Instagram accounts linked to Gabunada for engaging in what the social media giant said was "inauthentic coordinated behavior." The social media giant also said these Pages used fake accounts to mislead people about the origin of content posted.

In a statement today, Gabunada said he has received a Notice of Award from DOF but has yet to sign a contract. 

"Both parties can still get out of the engagement, if the details of the terms of engagement are not agreeable to both parties. Details are still to be discussed and I have not received any document containing it, yet," Gabunada said. 

The social media veteran also considered it "unfortunate (that) malice was imputed in the way the headline was written,” referring to some news reports on the DOF contract.

Gabunada’s contract runs from June 16 to December 15, 2021. In the notice of award, the DOF Bids and Awards Committee validated that Gabunada is “legally, technically and financially capable” to undertake and fulfill the consultancy work required. 

The DOF said his responsibilities include synthesizing research information on target audiences, developing multimedia communication plans, producing monthly evaluations of performance and public sentiment analysis, and assisting the DOF Spokesperson and Head of Communications in producing communication materials.

Gabunada’s lawyer, meanwhile, maintained that there was “nothing inappropriate” in his client’s DOF contract “as all requirements and the procedures under the Procurement Law were followed and were done aboveboard.”

Atty. Regie Tongol also threatened possible legal action against people who, he claimed, were maligning his client over Facebook’s action on Gabunada’s accounts and pages.

“It is malicious to keep bringing up the solely business prerogative of Facebook in tagging and maligning our client and connecting it with this totally separate and aboveboard agreement. Our client will explore all legal actions against these persons,” Tongol said.

When Facebook took down the accounts linked to Gabunada in 2019, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said “the primary role we see this network doing is working on behalf of political candidates, of course, it is related to the upcoming elections.” 

Candidates backed by the Duterte administration won overwhelmingly in that year's senatorial polls. 

-With a report from Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

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