MINORITY Senator Franklin M. Drilon said the proposed 2022 budget for the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) should be reworked to divert more funds to urgent matters like the pandemic response.

“Our priority for next year should be our pandemic response,” said Mr. Drilon, the chamber’s Minority Leader, at a budget hearing Thursday.

He noted that some programs can safely be pushed back to 2023 with no significant impact on government operations, adding: “We have to accept the fact that our resources are very tight.”

The Senate was considering denying funding for the PCOO’s Visayas Media Hub, which entails a capital outlay of P200 million and estimated operating expenses of P50 million; and the Government Communications Academy (GCA), which will require capital of P79 million.

Mr. Drilon said that it would be better to re-allocate the funds. “It is very obvious that we need funds because of the COVID response requirements. Every single peso of resources should prioritize COVID,” he added.

PCOO Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin M. Andanar said that in 2019, the budget allocated for the GCA had been deferred to give way to other priorities.

Mr. Drilon said he would personally look into which budgets and expenses can be trimmed. “We really need to help our frontliners, especially.” — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan