President Rodrigo Duterte graces the 9th anniversary of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) in Davao City on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. (Photo from an RTVM video)
MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said there’s nothing wrong with the Presidential Communications Operations Office’s (PCOO) press freedom caravan in Europe as long as the government funds are properly accounted for.
“I do not tinker with the decisions of how to do it, do it better, and do it more, better than the rest…basta wala lang corruption and the funds are properly accounted,” Duterte told reporters in an interview in Malacañang.
The President also emphasized his office’s need for a “propaganda division” in defending the controversial European trip.
“We have to have a propaganda division. You know it’s a political entity, itong presidency and of course all others,” he added.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar earlier said the caravan, which involved key PCOO officials, would serve as a forum to clarify issues confronting the Duterte administration, including the arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa over cyberlibel charges.
The caravan, however, prompted several lawmakers to question its real intention.
Sen. Grace Poe said there’s no need for the PCOO to organize such a caravan just to explain Ressa’s arrest, saying it should simply let the court decide on the case.
READ: Palace backs Andanar on ‘press freedom caravan’ to Europe
Malacañang, for its part, said the trip was “meaningful and fruitful” and had “nothing to do” with the arrest of Ressa.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo explained that the delegation was tasked to “deliver crucial information and campaigns of the government” to Filipinos abroad and members of the international community.
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