MANILA (UPDATE) — Deliberations at the House of Representatives on the proposed 2021 budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) were suspended Wednesday after one of them called out red-tagging by an official of the agency.
The House Committee on Appropriations suspended proceedings after a motion from the Makabayan bloc, which cited social media posts quoting claims of PCOO Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy that the group's members were high-ranking officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
“Sa pangunguna po ni Usec. Badoy... inaakusahan po ang Makabayan bloc ng terorista,” ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said.
(The Makabayan bloc is being accused by Usec. Badoy of being terrorists.)
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, who heads the PCOO, explained that the post was a personal one by Badoy and was not carried by official social media pages of the office.
“It was a Facebook post of Undersecretary Badoy using her own Facebook page. It was not posted on the PCOO page which has 2 million followers. It was not even posted on PTV, which has more than 2 million followers,” he said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate backed Castro's motion, which was carried with no objections despite Andanar's explanation.
“Kaya, kung ganun-ganun na lang po mag-aakusa itong isang unelected official na ito sa mga halal ng bayan at humihingi sila ng budget dito, we cannot allow that. This is not only an affront to that but I think, this is an affront to the institution. At sinasabi niya rito na kami raw, hindi mga tunay na mambabatas," Zarate said.
(If an unelected official can just easily make accusations against elected officials and then come here asking for a budget, we cannot allow that.)
The House committee issued a notice to the media that the PCOO’s budget deliberation has been suspended until further notice, and that a new date for the hearing would be announced.
The PCOO is seeking a P1.59-billion budget for 2021, down from its 2020 budget of P1.69 billion.
BADOY DEFENDS POSTS
Badoy turned the tables on the Makabayan bloc members who have called for her resignation.
In an interview with PTV, which was shared with ABS-CBN News, Badoy maintained she is not taking down her posts.
"I’m never taking down that, that’s my job to inform the Filipino people about something that is dangerous to them and their children. There’s no way on heaven on earth that I’m going to take down a post for I say what is the truth. Me resign? Maybe they should resign, not me, because I have not deceived the Filipino people," she said.
Badoy also stood by her claims that the Makabayan bloc are in the hierarchy of the communist rebel movement, naming several officials as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People's Army (NPA) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
"Hindi lang sila member, high-ranking party members sila ng CPP-NPA-NDF. Si Arlene Brosas ay nasa national womens (inaudible) siya ang head niyan, ng CPP-NPA sa organizational structure, si Carlos Zarate nasa national united front kasama rin sila Gaite, Cullamat, si Elago sa youth sector inside CPP-NPA-NDF," she said.
Bado claimed it was Jose Maria Sison, the founder of the CPP himself, who identified the said party-list organizations as legal fronts of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
She also cited cases at the Commission on Elections seeking the disqualification of women's group Gabriela for alleged communist links.
Badoy, likewise, said she was not surprised that she was not allowed to speak her mind during the budget hearings.
"Ako I expected it, 100% expected na magsasalita at hindi ako pasasalitain. Muntik pa nga nila hindi pagsalitain si Sec. Martin," she said.
(I expected it 100% that they won't let me speak. They almost did not let Sec. Martin speak.)