Permanent posts for gov’t information officers urged

LAOAG CITY — A number of information officers from the local government units here are pushing for the creation of permanent posts for them, saying it will be for all types of national and local government programs to really reach the grassroots level,

The call came after the launching of the Provincial Communication Officers Network (PCOnet) in Ilocos Norte province’s capital on Wednesday.

The PCOnet primarily aims to deliver relevant information from the Office of the President to the local communities and vice versa.

It was organized by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) jointly with the Philippine Information Agency.

PCOO Assistant Secretary for Operations Ana Marie Banaag said during the launch the PCOnet program is the Duterte administration’s way to reach out to everyone and share information that matters with the general public.

“We came here to build bridges, to facilitate easy access of information, to collect your numbers and to partner with you,” Banaag told participants at the launching of the PCOnet at the Capitol session here.

She added the PCOnet may also be used as a feedback mechanism to gather suggestions from the grassroots levels on how to further improve government services.

Also present during the PCOnet launching were PCOO Assistant Secretaries Kristian Ablan and Gerard Salapantan, and Director Princess Doque.

While government information officers in the province acknowledge the importance of the program, they asked that the position for public information officers be made permanent under the local government units to ensure the steady flow of information and for the sustainability of the program.

Charisse Garma, in her capacity as Information Officer (IO) of the Department of Interior and Local Government, explained that most public information officers in the province are merely designated as IO and they also perform other functions.

Garma and her fellow IOs said there should be a mandatory item for them in order to strengthen the information network.

Backing this move, PCOO’s Ablan assured they will bring up the issue at the national level and push for the creation of mandatory positions for IOs in the LGUs.

“In the time of fake news and in the advent of social media, there are many things that we have to make amends for, with regards to our policies and guidelines,” Ablan said.

For Ilocos Norte Vice Governor Angelo Barba, he said the creation of the PCOnet is a vital move of the national government to reach out to the public and for residents of the province to “be inquisitive and sincerely motivated to uplift the lives of Filipinos and to promote inclusive growth.”

The League of Municipalities of the Philippines is also expected to support PCOnet.