MANILA, Sept 19 (Mabuhay) — Saying Malacañang looked ridiculous for appearing to have too many spokespersons, Senator Franklin Drilon on Monday urged the Executive Secretary to issue an order telling Cabinet officials to “stop talking” for President Rodrigo Duterte.
During the budget presentation of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), headed by Secretary Martin Andanar, before the Senate Committee on Finance, Drilon raised Malacañang’s problem in “message discipline.”
“We cannot deny the fact that for the past three months, ang daming nagsasalita para sa Pangulo and I think your job, Mr. Secretary, is one of the most difficult in the government today because marami pong gustong sumali sa inyong katungkulan,” Drilon told Andanar.
Drilon said the public’s perception is that the set-up of Malacañang’s communications office is “merely in shambles.”
Andanar agreed with Drilon that there were too many officials speaking for Duterte.
He said he asked for Duterte’s support in last week’s Cabinet meeting to allow the PCOO to speak first on clarificatory questions that the media may have about the President’s speeches or any of his pronouncements.
“Only when we cannot explain comprehensively that we call on some Cabinet member or someone who has field of expertise to explain,” Andanar said.
Andanar said the President agreed with him.
But Drilon said other administration officials will continue to issue statements for and in behalf of Duterte unless the Executive Secretary issues an order.
“Use that statement of the President in the Cabinet meeting and say henceforth, only Secretary Andanar and Usec. [Ernesto] Abella and probably the ES can speak for and in behalf of the President,” Drion told Andanar.
“And tell the rest of the Cabinet to stop talking because nakakalungkot that nakakatawa kayo na ang dami-daming niyong nagsasalita para sa Pangulo, kung sinu-sino,” Drilon, a former executive secretary himself, pointed out.
“’Pag hindi mo gagawin ‘yan, I tell you Secretary Andanar, baka magka-heart attack ka, bata ka pa,” Drilon further said.
Andanar had earlier said that only Abella can speak in behalf of Duterte.
Senator Loren Legarda, for her part, said the confusion as to who should speak for Duterte is part of the “birth pains” of the three-month old administration.
Legarda said Cabinet officials should have one standard answer when they are asked by the media.
“They can just have one standard answer: “I defer to the presidential spokesperson,’ just to discipline everyone’s actions and speech with regards to policies,” said Legarda.(MNS)