Palace exec apologizes for Marcos post on Official Gazette

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 12 2016 09:12 PM

Photo from Ramon Cualoping's Facebook account

MANILA - Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Ramon Cualoping issued his personal apology for the controversial statements in a social media card for the birthday of President Ferdinand Marcos on Sunday.

Cualoping reiterated that the apology is not from the Presidential Communications Office, but from himself.

"I think the apology will not be from the office, but me personally. I think the apology would be more of because we were not prudent enough; we were not circumspect in terms of writing the accompanying copy. I believe the problem was not in the quotation, the speech quotation but the accompanying copy," Cualoping said.

He explained these cards are vetted for accuracy. 

"Normally, like in any group, we have an editorial calendar so it's done on a per month basis. Maybe if we have time, we can tour you upstairs in our office. We have a huge white board on a day-to-day basis. That's the content for Gazette and at the same time, content for other channels as well. Then there's a team handling research to verify and vet facts on what’s going to be posted," Cualoping told reporters.

Cualoping revealed they have a history consultant on board to help them in the vetting process.

"We have a consultant. He's from La Salle, Van Ibiernas. He's a professor in De La Salle."

Cualoping admitted that it was he who approved the accompanying copy for the Marcos post.

"Yes, the culled statements, I came from an overseas trip when we arrived last weekend, so when we arrived, they submitted it to me for approval. There were links where they got the speech of Marcos and the accompanying copy as well, but belatedly, we realized based on the comments of the people, it was kind of off," Cualoping admitted.

Meanwhile, Cualoping admitted one of his staff, Marco Cabrera, worked with the team of former Senator Bongbong Marcos. 

"When he applied to us early July, he had a full disclosure he was with the team of former Senator Marcos, I think one of the Senate staff. Just like any offices, we hire on the merits, of credentials as well, not just because of political affiliations. Of course, political affiliations, yes, but he's good, he's brilliant." 

Cualoping could not confirm if Cabrera had a hand in writing the copy, saying he has yet to check who wrote the accompanying copy on the Marcos post.

"I'll have to check because when we landed from Singapore last night, I only got the... I got a barrage of Viber (messages). I have to check who personally wrote that. Could be between him and the historian," he explained.

Cualoping said he will make sure this will never happen again, adding there is now an investigation. 

"Sana, hindi na hindi na mauulit 'yan. (I hope this won't happen again.) I make a commitment. May internal investigation. (There's an internal investigation.) There's an undersecretary mentioned by Secretary Andanar, Usec Noel Puyat, I’ll be talking to him after this to discuss the next steps. We haven't met personally yet because it's a holiday today and I just came back."

Cualoping, however, maintained that their basis for the post was factual. 

"I think the facts stated in the caption are correct. I think people were asking why was there no mention of martial law, why was there no mention and ouster like that, because like I mentioned a while ago, the way we post things, it's compartmentalized based on our editorial calendar. It was a birthday post. On September 21, it's the martial law anniversary, so it will be about martial law. It will be about what happened: martial law, the declaration and how it ended, how we evolved as a nation because of that."

According to Cualoping, the post on the Official Gazette has nothing to do with appeasing the Marcoses. However, he also admitted the need to be very careful when handling history, which is why he ordered the deletion of the controversial sentences.

Cualoping reiterated there was no attempt at historical revisionism.

"The Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines is the repository of government documents, as stated by law. We are not in the business of revising history. We only convey what is documented in the official records. We continually update materials to keep it as historically accurate as possible. The Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines is devoid of any political color and affiliations. Likewise, I would like to reiterate that there has been no revision of history and there will never be. We got wind and we were informed of the comments on social media late last night and we adjusted and edited the caption immediately."

Cualoping acknowledged criticism coming from then President Noynoy Aquino's deputy spokesperson, Abigail Valte, who called out the communications group for its alleged revisionism.

"I think her tweet is acknowledged. She knows how she was here for six years. She knows it's a tough job. I think I cannot personally respond but I will say acknowledged and we will improve. Di ako mapapahiya sa kaniya," Cualoping said.