Communications Undersecretary Kris Ablan confirmed that the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) had hired 375 contract-of-service (COS) personnel in 2020 but insisted that the agency has no trolls.
Ablan made the statement after the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the PCOO’s “unrestricted and massive” hiring of contractual employees that cost the agency P70.6 million, an amount the COA said could have been used for “other programs and projects of the government.”
The COA said the number of contractual personnel accounted for 70 percent of PCOO’s total workforce. It was also 260 percent higher than the 114 regular employees in the agency.
In an interview with ANC, Ablan justified the hiring, saying most of the tasks assigned to COS personnel were “highly technical.”
“They needed the likes of graphic artists, videographers, editors, directors, colorists to produce content for other agencies as our clients,” he said Friday, July 9.
“We are reviewing all of their contracts to make sure that they are highly technical and we have taken some steps in order to address the issues raised by the Commission on Audit,” he added.
He said no trolls were hired by the PCOO.
“We don’t have trolls at PCOO,” he said.
“The social media specialists in the COA report are actually our graphic artists who upload our socmed (social media) cards, our infographics explaining our programs on PhilSys (Philippine Identification System), COVID-19 (coronavirus disease( response and the vaccines,” he added.
“They don’t do what we normally understand what a troll does. It’s not under the PCOO,” he continued.
Meanwhile, Ablan explained why the PCOO hired contractual personnel instead of filling up the vacancies in the agency.
“Several reasons. One of them, it’s possible that the salary items were very low,” he said.
“We are currently undergoing a hiring process to transfer some contract of service to regular plantilla. So, steps have been made,” he added.