'Zero budget' for PCOO sought after blunders, Mocha Uson 'lewd' federalism video

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PCOO Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and Secretary Martin Andanar

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 7) — A lawmaker is calling for a "zero budget" for the controversy-laden Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) amid its request for increased funds.

Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin, highlighting the recent "lewd" federalism video of PCOO Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, enumerated instances showing the incompetence of the Communications Department.

"This is not the first time that the PCOO has made a fool of itself. Simple errors in spelling or grammar are indicators of the huge error in appointing officials who are not up for the task of informing our people accurately, sufficiently, and responsibly," he said in a statement on Monday, with the hashtag #ZeroBudgetPCOO.

In June alone, PCOO committed three blunders. It said "Norwegia" instead of "Norway," and then a few days later, it referred to late former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez as "Rogelio." It also wrongly identified Senator Sherwin "Win" Gatchalian as "Winston."

"If this is where our taxes go, perhaps it's time to remove its budget and use it for what our people truly need," Villarin said.

Related: Roque hopes PCOO learns from recent blunders

This call was also echoed by women's group Every Woman, who also called for the resignation of Uson for the "sexualizing" of the issue of federalism.

"In light of another unbelievable gaffe on the part of the PCOO, we also protest its request to increase its budget. We suggest the budget be reduced to zero. #ZeroBudgetPCOO #FireMocha," it said in a statement on Tuesday.

Based on the presentation of economic managers during the Senate hearing, PCOO has a P1.5 billion proposed budget for 2019 from this year's actual budget of P1.4 billion.

Senator Grace Poe called out PCOO for its request for a budget increase while other departments, such as the Departments of Education, Health, Agriculture, and Social Welfare, are getting "deep cuts" in their allocations.

"This is happening at a time when hunger incidence and food prices are soaring. While these agencies will suffer a slash, the PCOO will be gifted by a P100-million raise," she said in a statement.

She said the Communications Department should defend why it deserves a budget hike in spite of all its blunders and "reckless campaigns."

"The PCOO must justify its budget increase. What are the deliverables? Are memes and blogs also hit by inflationary spikes? Is the cost of feeding the nation with government information adversely affected by TRAIN, too? Will the PCOO be hiring campaigners to explain federalism?" the senator said.

The Senate finance panel is in the process of deliberations on the national budget for 2019.