Palace gags Cabinet execs

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FROM now on, members of the Cabinet and heads of government agencies are no longer allowed to discuss with members of the media the official statements of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a memorandum dated September 20, 2016, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said that only Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella can speak on behalf of the President.

“Please be advised that official statements of the President on significant national and international issues shall be coursed through and delivered only by the Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto C. Abella or in his absence Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin M. Andanar,” the memorandum read.

The order stems from “instructions of the President and in accordance with the consensus reached during
previous Cabinet Meetings,” it added.

Under the memorandum, the PCOO will be the office authorized to respond to media queries relating to Duterte’s statements, policies, official activities and accomplishments.

Cabinet members, agency heads, and heads of government-owned or controlled corporations were ordered not to give statements to the media “except on matters directly concerning their office or unless clearance has been secured from the PCOO.”

The memorandum came after conflicting statements from Palace officials drew criticism in recent weeks.

During the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Laos, the PCOO announced that Duterte will be seated between US President Barack Obama and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at a gala dinner, after Duterte called Obama a “son of a whore” and Ban criticized Duterte’s war on drugs for its human rights violations.

It turned out Duterte was seated between Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo.

The Official Gazette also received flak on social media for posting a birthday card on Facebook for former Ferdinand Marcos, whom the Gazette called the country’s “longest serving President” without mentioning Marcos’ declaration of martial law.

The Gazette later edited the Facebook post after netizens accused it of revising history.

Andanar has said he has taken such criticism to heart and has promised to streamline the Palace communication strategy.

Prior to the memo, Cabinet members would speak to media about Duterte’s statements. These include Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo and Peace Process Adviser Jesus Dureza.

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