Andanar should ‘cleanse his office of misguided spirits, incompetent people’ – Pimentel

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A screengrab from the PCOO's short-lvied martial law propaganda video.

MANILA, Philippines — Beleaguered Communications Secretary Martin Andanar should “cleanse his office of misguided spirits and incompetent people,” Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said Thursday, a day after the latest scandal to rock the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

The PCOO has taken flak lately over erroneous stories and content published by the Philippine News Agency as well as inaccurate social media postings by Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.

On Wednesday, the PCCO released a short-lived propaganda video promoting martial law that was immediately mocked by netizens, who have continued to deride not only its message but also its production values and grammar well after it was taken down after a few hours from the agency’s social media accounts.

The animation short shows a young boy fending off shadowy “extremists” with a shield emblazoned with the words “martial law” while a voiceover intones the words: “In the free society, there are groups who don’t want to give independence. They are adamant on detaining peaceful spirits. They are distressing feelings with fears. Let us not allow them to terrify us. We will all fight in unity. Martial law should be the rule of the land. Martial law. Now.”

The video was obviously intended to rally support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law over the whole of Mindanao in the wake of clashes between extremist gunmen and government forces in Marawi City Tuesday last week.

The video release came the same day the PCOO’s Strategic Communications Office was abolished “to streamline and to adjust to our new comprehensive communications strategy in promoting the policies of the different executive departments.”

And the day before that, when presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella referred Malacanang reporters seeking an explanation for the PNA and Uson’s blunders to Andanar, news reports said he refused to take questions and evaded journalists waiting outside his office by taking another exit.

Sought for reaction to the martial law video, Pimentel told News5 that he had not seen it but had “read the link you sent.”

He said the “message is not clear” and was “too abstract.”

But more than this, he stressed that martial law “is never ‘a good normal.’ It’s an extreme measure” that is “meant to be for a temporary period.”

It was “good that Andanar took it down. Let him cleanse his office of misguided spirits and incompetent persons,” Pimentel said. “Hayaan na natin siya (Let’s leave him alone) to fix his office.”

Malacañang disowns video

Meanwhile, Malacañang disowned the video, with Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella saying the Palace did not prepare it, according to philstar.com.

When pressed for comment, he told reporters to ask Andanar about it.