Philippine Daily Inquirer
Palace forms media group led by Coloma and Carandang
PRESIDENT AQUINO has finally organized his own communications group to act as Press Secretary and articulate his policies after a frenetic 10 days in power.
Mr. Aquino has tapped trusted allies—former Transportation Undersecretary and BusinessWorld columnist Herminio “Sonny” Coloma and ANC anchor Ricky Carandang—to head the group.
INQUIRER columnist Manolo Quezon III is also part of the group.
“Yes, it’s been formed. That’s the mandate of President Aquino. He wants the communications group [to be formed] because it’s an important part of the Office of the Press Secretary,” Secretary Edwin Lacierda said in a forum over government-run dzRB.
The presidential spokesperson, however, declined to reveal details of the composition and structure of the group, saying they were being finalized and would be announced tomorrow.
“We will have more details about it. It’s not that simple. We will announce everything by Monday,” he said.
However, a source close to the President confirmed the designation of the three men to the Palace communications team. He said Carandang and Quezon would be in charge of “messaging” and Coloma, “dissemination.”
The source also said that for the meantime, none of the three incoming officials would hold the title of Press Secretary.
According to another reliable source in Malacañang, Carandang is expected
to craft the messages, that in turn will be released to the press by Coloma.
The creation of the communications group took longer than expected due to the reported infighting for leadership between the LP, which is said to be backing Carandang, andMariaMontelibano, who is reportedly pushing for Coloma, according to an IN
source who refused to be identified for lack of authority to speak to themedia.
Montelibano, a cousin of Mr. Aquino, was in charge of media relations during the campaign.
“If Sonny comes in I suppose he will tap people from Maria Montelibano’s team, like Jing Magsaysay. I wouldn’t know who Ricky would tap, although I wouldn’t be surprised if he taps MLQ3,” the third source said.
President Aquino himself in his first news conference last Wednesday said that he still had to patch up some differences in themedia group that helped his campaign so he couldn’t yet announce the names of his communications group.
Not press secretary
Last month, President Aquino disclosed he was considering asking Carandang to be part of his Cabinet, but denied that Carandang would be named press secretary.
“I have not talked to Ricky but he might help us in the media group,” Aquino said in a press conference on June 14. “You really want to engage the citizenry and part of that is having an effective communications strategy. It’s not like after being elected, we’d just let our communications group take care of itself.”
Carandang also reportedly met with Mr. Aquino at his Times Street residence in Quezon City the day before Mr. Aquino’s inauguration.
The formation of the communications group, which will virtually take over the job of the Press Secretary, will more or less complete the cast of Mr. Aquino’s official family.
Mr. Aquino took his oath and convened his first Cabinet meeting last June 30, without a Press Secretary and a local government secretary. Last Friday, he appointed former Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo as interior and local government secretary.
The newly formed communications group will not lead to a dissolution of the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS). If at all, the OPS will be reorganized, according to Lacierda.
Under the new setup, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) will come under the communications group.
“In my case, as presidential spokesperson, I will now be part of the communications group,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda confirmed that the communications group would have two main functions: messaging and media operations.
“The roles will be more defined. As President Aquino said, he wants an organization that will deliver his messages effectively, that will provide a feedback mechanism to what the government is doing,” he said, but did not go into specifics.
Who will defend its budget at congressional hearings?
“That will be explained also. To the best of my knowledge, nothing will be dissolved. It would be, as we stated before, a reorganization of the Office of the Press Secretary,” Lacierda said.
Coloma was among Mr. Aquino’s most trusted advisers in the campaign, and was part of the group that coordinated the transition of power with then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Cabinet officials.
Mr. Aquino initially considered him for a post in the Presidential Management Staff (PMS).
After all, Coloma headed the PMS and served as deputy executive secretary in the Office of the President under the administration of Mr. Aquino’s mother, the late Corazon Aquino.
Coloma was also undersecretary in the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and in the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) under the same administration.
Currently a professor at the Asian Institute of Management’s W. Sycip Graduate School of Business, he was associate dean of the Executive Education and Lifelong Learning Center and was associate dean of the Master’s in Business Management program.
Coloma obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree major in Political Science, minor in Philosophy from the University of the Philippines. He holds a master’s degree in business management from the Asian Institute of Management. He earned his Ph.D. in organization development in 2009.
Coloma writes a weekly column, “Vector,” for BusinessWorld.
Columnist, TV host
Quezon, who is on leave from the INQUIRER, was the spokesperson for the inaugural of President Aquino.
A regular columnist for the paper since 2004, his column, “The Long View,” appears thrice aweek in the INQUIRER’S opinion section.
Quezon is also the host and writer for the show, “The Explainer” which airs on the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC).
No stranger to government service, he worked as consultant at the office of the late Sen. Raul Roco (1996-1997) and was a speech writer of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she was a senator (1997-1998) and later, when she was Vice President (1999-2001).
Carandang, TV host and anchor for the ABS-CBN News Channel, graduated with an AB Management Economics degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1990.
He is the eldest of three sons of noted clinical psychologist Dr. Maria Lourdes “Honey” Carandang and neurologist Dr. Brigido Carandang, president and dean of St. Luke’s College of Medicine.
Carandang became president of themagazine Newsbreak in 2001, with Marites Vitug, Glenda Gloria and Chay Hofileña at the core of its editorial team.
On ANC, he hosted “The Big Picture,” “Dateline Philippines,” and more recently, “The Rundown,” with Ces Drilon.
Carandang is not a member of Aquino’s Liberal Party, but once joined a think-tank that had LP members. He resigned Friday from ABS-CBN.
ABS-CBN yesterday confirmed this on its website: “ANC Management accepted the resignation of Anchor Ricky Carandang, which he submitted Friday, July 9, 2010.”
Sources: Inquirer archives, Asian Institute of Management, www.quezon.ph, www.rogue.ph