Duterte abolishes chief message-crafting body; reconstitutes Roque's office

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 27 2020 06:47 PM

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque. File photo

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte abolished Monday his chief message-crafting body and reconstituted the office of his spokesman in a bid to "harmonize" communication offices under his helm.

Duterte, through Executive Order No. 111, abolished the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, which served as his chief message-crafting body.

"Pursuant to the rationalization and streamlining efforts to achieve simplicity, economy, and efficiency in government, the PCDSPO is hereby abolished," Duterte said in his April 27 order.

The development means that the messaging efforts of Malacañang will now be limited to the Office of the Presidential Spokesman, headed by Harry Roque, and the Presidential Communications Operations Office, headed by Secretary Martin Andanar.

"There is a need to update and harmonize the functions of the said communication offices under the OP (Office of the President) to ensure the efficient and effective performance of their common mandate, and to streamline the release of relevant information to the public," Duterte said.

ROQUE'S OFFICE RECONSTITUTED

The EO also reconstituted the Office of the Presidential Spokesman just 2 weeks since Roque returned to Malacañang.

Under Duterte's latest order, his spokesman may be assisted by a deputy and an assistant spokesperson.

The presidential spokesman shall also have the following responsibilities:

1. Speak for the President on matters pertaining to his actions, policies, programs, official activities, and accomplishments;

2.Coordinate and cultivate relations with private mass media entities;

3. Provide news and information to the public by utilizing relevant mass media and other emerging platforms;

4. Develop and implement guidelines on information dissemination of the President's policies, programs, official activities, and accomplishments;

5. Provide a mechanism to address special concerns of the Office of the President for better communication with the Filipino people as well as with foreign media;

6. Submit periodic reports to the President, through the Executive Secretary, on the status of programs and projects undertaken; and,

7. Perform such other functions as the President may direct.

Since returning to Malacañang, Roque has taken a more active role in communicating not just the President's messages but also the government's policies on the coronavirus pandemic - a role previously fulfilled by Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

Roque last week said the Palace is limiting authority to speak on COVID-19 matters to him and Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire for health-related issues. 

He said he was unaware as to what prompted the changes.