President Duterte is reportedly considering bringing back the Office of the Press Secretary.
The revived OPS will bring together the functions of the PCOO, the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning and the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson.
It was the Aquino administration that broke the OPS into parts.
We saw then how the decentralization of the press office gave way to incongruous or disparate messages delivered by various messengers —Ricky Carandang, Sonny Coloma and Edwin Lacierda, and occasionally their deputies—who often operated on different wavelengths.
When President Duterte assumed office, he kept the complex and confusing structure. It did not help that the people he handpicked lent their own brand of notoriety to their positions.
Think of the series of blunders by a just-resigned assistant secretary, the defensive and spineless stand of her boss, the outrageous and unexplained expenses, and, most recently, the sudden emotional leave-taking of the presidential spokesman who was kept in the dark about the President’s health and told he should kill his dream of ever being senator.
Now there is talk that spokesman Harry Roque has been offered the Press Secretary role, but he has to forego this—likely in favor of presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo, himself an erstwhile spokesman—if he insists on running for office.
The people should have none of the drama created by these executive communicators. It is their job to clarify and simplify the message of the President. Given Mr. Duterte’s bizarre communication patterns, that should already be a challenge in itself.
No amount of restructuring will solve the fundamental problem of mixed messages if the very people appointed to the posts continue to muddle what the President is trying to say, or put his words “in the proper context,” or attract their own controversy instead of helping put things on an even keel.