MANILA – The budget proposals of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) and its attached agencies got the approval of senators on Monday.
Secretary Cheloy Garafil told reporters that senators realized the importance of the PCO's mandate with the Finance committe's approval of the agency’s PHP2.467 billion proposed budget for 2024.
"Natutuwa ang PCO dahil nakita ng Senado ang kahalagahan ng ginagawa ng (We, in the PCO, are happy because the Senate realized the importance of PCO's work) in terms of education, information dissemination, fighting fake news. Kaya kami naman ay natutuwa dahil nadagdagan (That's why we are happy because it was increased)," Garafil said.
The Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC-13) and People's Television Network, Inc. (PTV-4) were also allotted PHP250 million and PHP203.914 million, respectively.
"Merong promise of additional budget para sa PTV-4, sa IBC-13 especially. Diyos ko, ilang dekada na ‘yung kanilang problema sa labor. So malaking pasasalamat namin syempre doon sa aming sponsor na si Senator JV [Ejercito] and of course sa leadership of the Senate na syempre pinangungunahan ni (There is a promise of additional budget for PTV-4, for IBC-13 especially. My God, they have been facing labor problems for decades. So we thank our sponsor, Senator JV Ejercito, and of course, the leadership of the Senate which is of course being led by) Senate President Miguel Zubiri," she added.
Garafil was pertaining to the unpaid retirement benefits of IBC-13 employees.
Ejercito said the proposed PHP250 million subsidy of IBC-13 will be spent entirely for about 160 retirees.
Garafil also assured that under the PCO's watch, the APO Production Unit and its personnel have no involvement in the reported illegally secured passports by foreigners.
After hearing about the scheme, she said PCO and APO Production Unit immediately conducted an investigation.
"So, on our own, gumawa na kami ng investigation and we would like to assure everyone [at ng Senado] na sure na ang passport na ginagawa sa APO ay secure[d] pati ang facility at lahat ng pwede nating gawin to make sure na walang [illegal] access doon sa printers natin, sa mga security papers natin na nagawa (we did an investigation and we would like to assure everyone and the Senate that the passport being printed in APO are secured, including the facility, and we will do everything to make sure that there will be no illegal access on our printers and security papers that we make)," Garafil assured.
Apo Production Unit is a government-owned and controlled corporation under PCO and is mandated to print Philippine passports.
Senators will investigate reports that foreigners, particularly Chinese nationals, were issued Philippine passports. (PNA)