Coloma volunteered himself for Palace briefings – Valte
MANILA, Philippines – So who's idea was it for Communications Secretary Herminio "Sonny" Coloma to start briefing Palace reporters regularly after being in office for 3 years?
A day after the secretary announced that he'd start becoming a fixture in media briefings , Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte told media that the idea came from Coloma himself, and not a directive from President Benigno Aquino III.
"Actually, it was not the President [who made the arrangement]. In fact, when Secretary Sonny texted us [Valte and Lacierda] and volunteered to go on rotation, we told the President. We said, 'Sir, Sec Sonny volunteered.' And he said, 'Okay. At least, you know, you have time off,'" she said on Friday, October 25.
The clarification had to be made. Since the Aquino administration started in mid-2010, the daily Palace briefings were conducted alternately by Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and his deputy, Valte.
Then on Thursday, Coloma said he'd take his turn too because "the government...desires to continuously improve" in areas like communication.
It didn't help that it's widely known Coloma belongs to one Palace faction while Lacierda and Valte belong to another – although they have repeatedly denied this.
Lacierda and Valte alternate days throughout the week in holding media briefings at the Palace and speaking for the President. Coloma, on the other hand, has been more involved in managing state-run media and other communication projects of the government.
The change prompted questions on whether President Benigno Aquino III was dissatisfied with the work of his spokespersons.
Valte said she welcomed the change.
"[Our] responsibilities are very heavy and we also appreciate the initiative of Secretary Coloma to at least share the responsibilities also with us," she said.
"In my case and in the case of the Presidential Spokesperson, the President requires us to be present in his briefings, and that does not include the fact that we are also called upon by other departments, agencies and bureaus to help in their communication efforts, as well as other special projects that have been given to us. At least the Presidential Spokesperson is also part of all the Cabinet Clusters."
She said the new arrangement would allow her and Lacierda room to breathe and to focus on their other tasks.
In the past, Lacierda and Coloma were identified with two power blocs in government: the so-called Balay group led by the Liberal Party (LP) and the so-called Samar group that's associated with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. – Rappler.com