Press freedom caravan no junket -- Andanar

February 19, 2019
Martin Andanar

PRESIDENTIAL Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar on Tuesday said the press freedom caravan’s European trip is not a junket but a compliance with Executive Order (EO) 70.
“Hindi po ito junket, this is really under the EO 70,” Andanar said.

Under EO 70, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflicts was created composed of different government agencies including the PCOO.

Andanar said the task force leads the press freedom caravan that primarily aims to clarify the issue on the 625 cases of enforced disappearances in the country as reported by the United Nations.

Senators earlier questioned the necessity of sending government officials to Europe for the caravan supposedly to answer queries on the arrest of Rappler’s Maria Ressa.

But Andanar reiterated that Ressa’s arrest was not included in the topics that the PCCO planned for the caravan, saying the task force arrived in Europe before her arrest.

Still, Andanar said he directed his personnel to answer questions about the issue on Ressa.

He maintained that the caravan was not organized to explain the arrest of Ressa to the European bodies but to clarify the issue on involuntary disappearances and communist terrorist groups.

“Alam naman natin na we are under fire dito sa European countries at sa America. Hindi talaga nila maintindihan kung anong nangyayari dito. We are being unfairly reported,” Andanar said.

“So, kailangan pong pumunta ng gobyerno doon para maipaliwanag  natin kung ano talaga yung nangyayari on the ground,” he added.

Andanar said he has no idea how much was spent for the caravan’s European trip.

He said only five individuals from PCOO participated and he does not know how many representatives from other agencies in the task force joined the trip to Europe.