During the Senate deliberations on the proposed 2021 budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), some senators questioned the agency’s spending of nearly all of its P1.73 billion budget this year on salaries and operational costs when its broadcast agencies had to be modernized.

“Ako may criticism ako, wag kayong magagalit, ang dami ninyong undersecretaries. Ang dami ninyong assistant secretaries. And dami ninyong general managers,” Senator Richard Gordon pointed out.

As per the PCOO website, the agency has five undersecretaries, seven assistant secretaries, and six directors.

PCOO’s attached agencies — the Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Bureau of Communications Services (BCS), News and Information Bureau (NIB), Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC-13), and the People’s Television Network (PTV) — also have their respective directors and managers that add up to the bureaucracy.

Under the agency’s proposed P1.59-billion budget for 2021, the PCOO earmarked P79.23 million for the improvement of its physical assets.

The bulk of the fund, however, was allocated to the construction of the “Government Communications Academy” (P52.35 million) and the “improvement” of the PIA’s parking area (P2.55 million).

Echoing Gordon’s statement, Senator Imee Marcos said: “Yung budget ninyo [P1.59 billion] lang, so mga P100 million na lang ata yung natira parang ganon, kaya nga ako nagtataka, kasi puro sahod at saka MOOE.”

“We are asking you to focus on engineering sana tutok tayo sa engineering. Isantabi muna yung development academy, yung development communication, yung mga kung anu-ano. Tutok muna tayo sa pamimili ng equipment. E kaso mukhang tutok tayo sa sahod,” Marcos added.

Of the proposed 2021 budget, some P1.4 billion is allocated for personal services and the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE).

While the PCOO has been spending billions on the salaries of its personnel and maintenance expenses, IBC-13 workers in August mounted a protest demanding the government station to pay them proper wages.

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