MANILA— The Department of Finance said Tuesday its decision to hire as a consultant Nicanor Gabunada Jr., a man linked to shuttered Facebook accounts, is "legal and aboveboard."
Several reports earlier pointed out that Gabunada had been awarded a 6-month contract by the DOF worth P909,122.40.
Social media giant Facebook in 2019 took down 67 Facebook Pages, 68 Accounts, 40 Groups, and 25 Instagram accounts linked to Gabunada for engaging in what it said was "inauthentic coordinated behavior."
The department's Bids and Awards Committee Undersecretary Gil Beltran in a statement said Gabunada was hired to help raise public awareness for the government's pending economic bills and proposed capital market development reforms.
Gabuna was hired “to assist the DOF in developing brand and communications strategy for the DOF to aid in the swift passage of the remaining packages of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) plus other priority government measures and align system-wide communications covering the DOF and its attached agencies," Beltran said.
Setting up social media platforms is "nowhere in the contract." His tasks involve assisting the DOF in the production and development of communications materials for television, print and digital channels which include social media and website," Beltran said.
The TRAIN law and the recently enacted CREATE Bill are part of the administration's tax reform program.
Gabunada's over P900k consultancy fee is "reasonable for this type of highly technical service and complies with all procurement laws and rules," Beltran said.
In a statement sent to ABS-CBN News, Gabunada said he has yet to sign the deal.
— with a report from Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News