Communications Secretary Martin Andanar (File photo)

MANILA – Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar assured the senators that the agency did not hire “trolls” as the Senate approved the proposed PHP1.63-billion budget for 2022 of the PCOO and its attached agencies.

Andanar made the assurance during the plenary budget deliberations on Tuesday when senators, particularly Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, inquired if there are online trolls among the 1,479 contract of service (COS) personnel of the PCOO.

In response, Andanar raised two thumbs to assure the lawmakers when Senator Richard Gordon said Drilon wants to get assurance from the PCOO chief.

Andanar also apologized for the deferment of the budget deliberation over the supposed inappropriate behavior of APO Production Unit Inc. Sales and Marketing Manager Dominic Tajon while attending the session online on Monday night.

The senators called out Tajon for “drinking alcohol” but official of the APO Production, a unit under the PCOO, explained that he only had a sip of cola.

Tajon, however, apologized for his “perceived disrespectful conduct” that prompted the senators to move the deliberations to Tuesday.

He said he profusely “apologize to the honorable Senate and humbly beg for its utmost compassion, liberality and consideration…and excuse me for the perceived disrespectful conduct during the said session.”

“I vehemently deny imbibing liquor or any other fermented drink during the session,” Tajon added.

Andanar also apologized to the senators for what was seen in observance of Tajon’s “inappropriateness and disrespect to the standard professional etiquette expected virtually.”

“Any lapse in appropriate conduct or courtesy will never be condoned, as we in the PCOO and our attached agencies are committed to the highest standards of professionalism in all instances,” Andanar said in a statement.

“Our apologies to the Senate; in this juncture, reflect our sincere assurance that any such behavior that shows discourtesy will never be deliberately observed by any of our personnel in any situation, as it is detrimental to the PCOO, its attached agencies, our core values, and our government agencies,” he added.
Andanar said he sent show cause order to Tajon to explain his behavior during the Senate deliberations.

Mayroon naman siyang paliwanag. Tayo ay humingi na ng paumanhin sa Senado. Tinanggap naman nila iyong aking official na statement at paumanhin at ganundin kay Dominic Tajon, humingi din siya na dispensa, at sa kasalukuyan ay inimbestigahan pa naming sa PCOO iyong kanyang diumano ay pag-inom ng alcohol (He has explanation. We asked apology to the Senate. They accepted my official statement and apology and also Dominic Tajon, he asked apology and at present the PCOO is investigating his alleged drinking of alcohol),” he said in an interview with broadcaster Erwin Tulfo over PTV-4. (PNA)