OPS in the duct long ago

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Talks to revive the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) had been there since early in President Rodrigo Duterte’s term and it is likely a merger of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson will transpire as the Chief Executive seems to have warmed up on the idea.

This was revealed yesterday by PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar who admitted he suggested the merger to Mr. Duterte as early as 2016.

“I made the suggestion to place the PCOO within the OPS during a budget hearing at the Senate,” Andanar said. “It received support from now Senate President Tito Sotto.”

Andanar then claimed to have submitted an executive order proposal before Executive Secretary (ES) Salvador Medialdea also in 2016. He said he resubmitted the same proposal to the ES this year which President Duterte welcomed, according to the PCOO chief.

Andanar cited the past experiences of the OPS and the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson which used to be merged until President Cory Aquino split them into two offices in 1989.

It stayed that way until now despite various tweaking by Aquino’s successors.

The President only told me to stay put.

Andanar said he is open to changes, including the possibility of having a press secretary and a presidential spokesman.

“It is up to the President whatever changes he’ll make in the two offices,” Andanar added.

The press secretary, according to Andanar, is likely to manage the Philippine News Agency, PTV-4 and the government radio stations.

But the press secretary can also be designated as the presidential spokesman if the Chief Executive will deem it.

Andanar, however, clarified that he has yet to receive an offer from the President on his next administrative assignment.

“The President only told me to stay put,” Andanar said. “And until I get re-assigned to another duty, I will be serving President Duterte in my capacity as PCOO head.

Andanar also clarified he did not receive any formal offer from President Duterte about a possible appointment as presidential political adviser vice Francis Tolentino.

“The President has this joke about me not winning or losing yet in a political contest. So, what political advice would I give President Duterte?” he quipped. “And what he said is true.”

Andanar also said he is just awaiting instructions from Mr. Duterte before the merger could be started.

“It still depends on President Duterte what kind of setup he wishes to undertake with both or the merged offices,” Andanar said.

“Meantime, I’ll be sticking around until announcements are made,” he added.

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