Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said the government will establish a strategic communication training academy for national and local government information officers as early as next year, following the approval of the finance and budget departments.
Information officers from various government agencies lauded Andanar’s plan, saying it will not only provide a strong, comprehensive and unified communication structure to combat disinformation, but will also breed excellent communication officers nationwide.
“The quality of information that we receive based on our present structure would depend on the capability of the government information office. There are so many bureaucratic organizations to look up to, such as the PNP, AFP, PIA, also DFA. Most of these organizations have highly qualified people. But it does not go across the entire government bureaucracy. Most barangays don’t even have information officers,” Andanar said during the oath-taking ceremony for the Association of Government Information Officers 8 (Eastern Visayas) at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Tacloban City headquarters on Friday.
“One thing I noticed is the lack of uniformity in government communication paradigm. Each department on the national level has different ways to do media relations and public relations,” he said, according to a news release issued Saturday.
“I conceptualized an academy that perhaps can help us in our pursuit that can help us improve our communications paradigm. I thought that it is imperative that the government set up its own government strategic communications training center,” Andanar said.
He said the training center will have research facilities, television and radio stations, a digital newsroom, lodging, and attached agencies of the PCOO, such as the Philippine News Agency (PNA) and PIA.
“It has all of the necessary information that we need. All information officers across the archipelago can learn the real way,” Andanar said.
He said that he plans to build the strategic communication training center in Bukidnon, which not only has a temperate climate but is also a gateway to major cities in the southern Philippines, such as Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City, as the government seeks to push development in regions outside Metro Manila.
Andanar said the Department of Finance and the Department of Budget and Management have already approved in principle the planned training center to be included in the national budget when the PCOO presented its business proposal.
He said he wants the training academy to start construction as early as next year, in time for the completion of the People’s Television Network Mindanao Media Hub, as well as the commencement of the Visayas Media Hub’s construction by then.
Francis Rosaroso, information officer of the Department of Agriculture, said the plan is a dream come true for government communicators.
“This is attuned to our vision of professionalizing and institutionalization of our ranks. Once we have that Gov’t StratCom Academy, anyone who undergoes short- or long-term courses in this training center will be honed according to a standard of excellence that the center will provide to aspiring information officers. A very nice move or idea from Sec. Andanar. With this high-end learning center in mind, I can say that Sec. Andanar really knows what he is doing. A good legacy that he can leave to the next-gen of information practitioners,” he said.
The Professional Regulation Commission’s Chief Professional Regulation Officer Alma Genotiva meanwhile said that the state-of-the-art facility “will help and make us effective and capable in carrying our tasks as we represent our respective agencies.”
“Based on how the Secretary described it, it will really be (a) big help to practice IOs as it will enhance or upgrade their skills, and IOs will be updated with the current trends,” Department of Agrarian Reform information officer Jose Soria said.
Information officers Maita Sugcang of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Myles Colasito of the Department of the Interior and Local Government also welcomed the plan, saying it would increase the capability of government workers, especially those in regions not easily reached by information.
“You will have a place, an academy to be able to share your expertise, not only amongst yourselves but also the people who need it most,” Andanar told the information officers.
“Continue to be the bearers of good communicators of history. And continue to be the harbinger of truth today, and continue to be the quintessential communicators of tomorrow,” he added. (PR)
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