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Malacañang ‘drumbeaters’ get bigger budget in 2015

Battling low popularity ratings, President Aquino has proposed a bigger budget for the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO), which handles his messaging system, market research, and analysis, among others, next year.

While the PCDSPO budget was increased, the President scaled down the budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) that supervises the government communication machinery, including state-owned television and radio networks, in 2015.

The budget disparity between the two Palace offices assigned to communicate the President’s policies and programs to the public were indicated in the P2.606-trillion national budget bill presented by the executive branch to Congress.

Under the proposed 2015 national budget, the PCDSPO will get P72.23 million, up from P69.65 million this year.  Of the PCDSPO budget, around P49.41 million will go to maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), including travel, communication, and intelligence funds, while P22.81 million will bankroll personnel services such as salaries.

By programs, the proposed 2015 budget for PCDSPO message crafting and production reached P16 million, media research and monitoring at P11.8 million, and preservation of the institutional memory of the Office of the President at P15 million.

The PCSDPO budget for travel expenses will also increase to P7.1 million next year, compared to P1.8 million this year.  Funds for survey, research, exploration and development expenses also jumped to P5.2 million in 2015 from P2.7 million in 2014.

The PCDSPO, supervised by Undersecretary Manolo Quezon III, seeks to craft, consolidate, and institutionalize the administration communications agenda through the elevation of public discourse.

Apart from crafting messages and visuals that are informative and easy for the public to understand, the PCDSPO aims to ensure the President’s messages are articulated, promote effective and transparent government, and strengthen ownership of cultural heritage.

The PCOO led by Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on the other hand, will endure an P8-million budget cut in the proposed 2015 national budget.

Coloma’s office, which deals with public information dissemination, will have a budget of P193.86 million in 2015, down from P201.92 million this year. Of this amount, at least P157.8 million will finance the MOOE while P36 million will go to personnel services.

Among the MOOEs are travelling expenses (P40 million), professional services (P21 million), supplies and materials expense (P16.9 million) and communications expenses (P14.8 million).

Around P141 million will go the formulation, coordination, and implementation of integrated public information plans and programs.

Except for the Bureau of Broadcast Services (BBS), four other offices under Coloma’s supervision will also get lower allocation in the 2015 budget bill.

The Bureau of Communication Services will get a lower allocation of P32.3 million next year, compared to P33.19 million this year.

The National Printing Office will have a budget of P6 million in 2015, significantly lower than P78 million this year.

The budget of News and Information Bureau (NIB) also decreased to P98.5 million in 2015 from P103 million in 2014 while the Presidential Broadcast Staff will receive P126.3 million from P191.7 million in the same period.

The proposed budget for BBS, on the other hand, slightly increased to P269.2 million in 2015 from P268.1 million this year.