Another day, another blunder for the PCOO

By: Jullian Desales
August 08, 2017

The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) has again fallen flat on its face. The PCOO, constantly under fire for its share of blunders under the Duterte administration, finds itself embroiled in yet another controversy for its animated presentation supporting the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao. The clip has since been taken down from all of the PCOO’s social media pages since June 1, hours after it was initially posted.

The video made by PCOO shows a boy holding a shield adorned with the words “Martial Law”, surrounded by silhouettes of what appeared to be soldiers with guns labeled “extremist”. There was a male narration that spoke in a tone almost comical in its earnestness.

“In the free society, there are groups who do not want to give independence,” the man began gravely and forebodingly. “They are adamant on detaining peaceful spirit. They are distressing feelings with fears. Let us not allow them to terrify us. We will all fight in unity. Martial Law should be the rule of the land, Martial Law now!”

In the aftermath of the controversy, opposition senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan called the video “garbage”, saying it was reminiscent of government media that funneled propaganda for late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his then-ruling New Society.

Social media was quick to air its frustrations over the clip as well, slamming the communication channel headed by Secretary Martin Andanar as a means of government propaganda, with critics pointing out that it appeared to glorify Martial Law. Twitter users took to its “cheap-looking” animation as comic-relief, and there were those who condemned it as waste of taxpayer’s money. It took only a couple of hours since posting before the PCOO would take down the video.

In response to the wave of criticism, Malacanang was forced to release a statement regarding the PCOO’s latest gaffe.

“It’s not something we prepared,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella admitted in a press briefing.

For its part, PCOO has yet to release a statement that will explain the posting and creation of the video. Secretary Martin Andanar will have to explain why they have created a video that is not supported by Malacanang.

Opposition lawmakers such as Risa Hontiveros and former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay have called for both Houses of Congress to convene for a joint session. The joint session aims to discuss the validity of Duterte’s declaration, and to find, if any, possible cause to overturn the decision.

If the video “Martial Law Now” was PCOO’s way to reach out to the public, the time is nigh for a reevaluation of strategy. It would be quite the disgrace if the organization tasked to speak on behalf of the President would find itself in blunders at the rate that it has thus far.

The public sees through the slightest of mistakes, thanks to alternative platforms like social media Andanar and company had better go about their business honestly if they want to save face.