Imee Marcos told: DevCom still relevant with poverty, remnants of Martial Law atrocities

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 14 2020 03:51 PM | Updated as of Oct 14 2020 03:59 PM

Members of different human rights groups hold a protest at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani on September 21, 2020 as the country commemorates the 48th year of the declaration of martial law in 1972. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Students and practitioners of development communication (Devcom) on Tuesday slammed Senator Imee Marcos, who described the program as "archaic" or old-fashioned during a budget hearing.

In a statement, the student council of the College of Development Communication at University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) said the program remained vital in raising social awareness and consciousness, and was more relevant because of Martial Law, the regime of the senator's late father. 

"[It is a] recognized field of study and practice that shapes agents of change who can help optimize the potentials of communication media, models, and strategies to raise social awareness and consciousness on issues that affect them," the council said in a statement released Tuesday night. 

"It is politicians like Imee Marcos and her family, especially her corrupt parents, who have made DevCom relevant then and now," the group added. 

The Marcoses are accused of embezzling billions in public funds and killing Filipinos critical of the government. Imelda Marcos, widow of the late strongman Ferdinand, was also convicted of 7 counts of graft related to Swiss bank accounts she opened during her husband's regime.

During a Senate hearing on the Presidential Communications Operations Office's budget, Marcos questioned the budget allotted to attached office Philippine Information Agency's Development Communication Program, saying Devcom has been "largely debunked." 

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"Bakit tayo papasok sa DevCom unless you have a revolutionary idea na bagong-bago na involves all kinds of feedback mechanisms transparency efforts and interactive play. 'Pag walang ganoon ano iyong DevCom? Makaluma na tinaggal, na sa ating mga pamantasan? Wala na iyon eh," Marcos said, as the PIA presented its plan. 

Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Director-General Ramon Cualoping responded by saying the program was relevant, especially with the growing use of the Internet. 

"DevCom is very relevant at a time where communication is democratized because of the internet where everyone is empowered to create his or her own content," Cualoping said. 

Marcos however said the program was already archaic.

"I would really like to understand the nitty gritty of this Development Communication program because it's so old-fashioned. It's sort of cute and archaic," she said. 

UPLB's College of Development Communication, which pioneered Devcom studies in the Philippines, however said "as long as there are social issues to be addressed, devcom will remain ever relevant."

It also noted that devcom "is recognized by thought leaders around the world," and has driven "positive social change through communication." 

Devcom "in the Philippines has been around for almost 70 years, and this discipline and practice only continues to flourish," it added. 

"The practical applications of educational communication are especially visible now with the need to make remote learning an effective, inclusive, and enjoyable experience," it added, referring to distance learning which was implemented nationwide to arrest the spread of coronavirus disease.