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Garafil breezes thru CA confirmation hearing

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THE Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, confirmed the ad interim appointment of lawyer Cheloy Velicaria Garafil as Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary.

During the plenary session confirming her appointment, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri spoke very highly of Garafil whom he described as “humble, low profile, very kind and very industrious” and an official “very easy to approach” unlike other presidential appointees who passed thru the confirmation process.

Zubiri also praised Garafil for her closeness with the working press assigned in the chamber noting that many of them even approached him to state that they are willing to stage a “rally” in support of her nomination.

“Ang sabi nga nila sa akin sila daw ay magra-rally para sa iyo,” the Senate leader remarked. “Kung ganoon ka kamahal ng media, I think they know you more than all of us and you will be performing your duties very well. We know that for a fact. Mabuhay po kayo,” he added.

Prior to her joining the government, Garafil also pounded the reporter’s beats for the broadsheet ‘Malaya’ where she made the rounds of the media beats from the police, local government, the judiciary and various departments of the government.
Many of the veteran journalists in various beats today are among her colleagues.

The deliberations of her appointment went smoothly after only two members of the panel—Senators Rissa Hontiveros and Grace Poe—asked questions on her plans for the PCO.

Hontiveros asked about Garafil’s plan to counter the proliferation of disinformation or “fake news” in the country, while Senator Grace Poe inquired about the administration’s plan for the transport sector affected by the PUV modernization program.

“The PCO will not tolerate fake news. Actually, we abhor fake news. In fact, in the past several days, we also experienced being a victim of fake news that is why I will really fight fake news during my term as PCO secretary,” she said.

Garafil added that her office is now crafting a media literacy program to counter the proliferation of disinformation.

“We will go to the grassroots to focus on the problem of fake news so that no one can be victimized,” she said.

For his part, CA panel chairperson Negros Oriental 2nd District Rep. Manuel Sagarbarria said during the plenary session that Garafil is the best person for the position of PCO secretary as she is well adept at dealing with the media as she was once a journalist.

“She is an eloquent and well-seasoned lawyer, and most importantly, she is a committed public servant through and through,” he added.

“We will always try to be truthful and transparent in all our articles, in all our efforts para at least for the public dissemination pa rin and, of course, para sa ating Pangulo,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the CA discussion.

Garafil first joined the Marcos administration as chairperson of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) but Pres. Marcos Jr., decided to entrust to her the government’s communications portfolio by designating her as the new press secretary last January 10, 2023.

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