Rift in Aquino communications team could worsen

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 12 2010 11:44 PM | Updated as of Jul 13 2010 07:44 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Alleged infighting in the communications group of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III could lead to problems in the future, a political analyst warned Monday.

Prof. Prospero de Vera of the University of the Philippines-National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG), said Aquino was trying to please everyone in his inner circle in the formation of his communications group.

Speaking at the sidelines of the UP-NCPAG seminar for new lawmakers, De Vera said the inclusion of former mediamen Manolo Quezon III, Ricky Carandang and Herminio Coloma is a “ choice the president had to make given that he was carried to power  by a vast array of  forces.”

De Vera warned the President that such a situation is not sustainable over the long term since the president will eventually have to act decisively and get rid of people who don’t help.

He said all new Cabinet members will have to assessed after one year if they have delivered on the promises of the administration.

De Vera said problems could come up with the warring factions because they might end up contradicting each other or furthering their own interests. De Vera said the same thing happened during the term of President Cory Aquino, mother of the incumbent president.

He added, however, that the rift is part of the normal birth pains of a new administration.

De Vera said the President may also be trying to compensate for weaknesses and clashes of his Cabinet with the media by expanding the communication system.

Quezon and Carandang have been identified with the group of Aquino supporters allied with the Hyatt 10, Liberal Party and former Senator Mar Roxas.

Coloma, columnist of BusinessWorld, is identified as a close associate of Cory Aquino’s Radio TV Malacañang head, Maria Montelibano, who is also perceived to be close to the camp of Vice-President Jejomar Binay.

Sources have told ABS-CBN News that the weeks-long impasse over the communications team---which will supersede the current Office of the Press Secretary---is because of the acrimonious struggle over control over the government’s propaganda machinery in preparation for the 2016 elections.

Over the weekend, Carandang and Quezon tendered their resignations from immediate past positions in ABS-CBN and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, though they gave no details of their next plans.

Malacañang had separately said the communications team will be formally created and announced this week. However, it did say that the communications team is complete.

Sources have also told ABS-CBN News that the arrangement for the communications team was formalized last Friday, the same night Carandang tendered his resignation from ABS-CBN. Quezon, meantime, announced on his farewell column for the Inquirer his functions in the Aquino administration.

Carandang and Quezon will supposedly handle the messaging function of the communications team, while Coloma will handle media relations, which handles the bureaucracy under the OPS.

Such a bureaucracy includes the Philippine Information Agency, government channel NBN 4, sequestered stations RPN9 and IBC 13, and government radio Radyo ng Bayan as well as the National Printing Office.

The OPS has a budget of around P3 billion for 2010.