By Pia Ranada
Marco Angelo Cabrera is called out online for ‘conflict of interest.’ PCO Assistant Secretary Ramon Cualoping III says Bongbong Marcos’ former campaign staff fully disclosed this to his bosses.
MANILA, Philippines – A former campaign staff of Ferdinand Marcos Jr in the May elections drew flak from netizens after he was linked to the Official Gazette’s Facebook update that was widely perceived as being “pro-Marcos.”
Marco Angelo Cabrera, who now works for the Official Gazette under the Presidential Communications Office, was called out on Facebook by lawyer Jesus Falcis for the PCO page’s commemorative post on the 99th birthday of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
The photo was captioned with bits about Marcos’ government service but initially left out the details about the Martial Law declaration in 1972 and his being ousted through the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986. The post has been updated since. (READ: Official Gazette under fire for Marcos photo caption)
Falcis pointed out that Cabrera used to work for the son and namesake of the late strongman, as proven by another social media account under his name.
“The conflict of interest is so glaring and palpable. Multiple issues and events will require you to post on matters touching Ferdinand Marcos and his family – from the current issue on his burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani to future commemorations of the declaration of Martial Law and the EDSA Revolution,” Falcis said.
The Gazette post, which was edited a few times Sunday, has since inspired memes and parodies. (READ: #SuperficialGazette: Filipino netizens ‘rewrite history’)
Cabrera responded to Falcis, saying that his bosses at PCO are well aware of his employment history, which he also disclosed on his Facebook page.
“My bosses know of my previous work for former Senator Bongbong Marcos. I was accepted to work for them with the full knowledge of my previous employment. The reason for my two Facebook accounts is that I used the other one during my stint in the Senate and on the campaign trail,” Cabrera said.
He added: “I do not believe that my previous work for former Senator Marcos would have any conflict of interest insofar as my work is concerned since I follow the lead of my bosses.”
Cabrera initially posted his comment using the Official Gazette’s account. Netizens again faulted him for it.
“Although I have a certain level of control over the page (Facebook has several levels of control), ultimately, official posts must be approved by the admin. Unfortunately, I must have not switched to my personal account to comment again. I appreciate you in pointing this out,” Cabrera said.
Meanwhile, Cabrera said he will leave it to his superiors to respond on the the blunder on the Official Gazette’s Facebook page.
PCO Assistant Secretary Ramon Cualoping III, who is managing the Official Gazette, did not confirm if Cabrera was the one who wrote the post about Marcos Sr.
Cualoping said he gave the final approval to the post.
“I’ll have to check [because] there’s a team, there’s a team handling [the] Gazette,” Cualoping told Rappler. “There is a pool of researchers, there are editorial writers and we have a pool of consultants – historian consultants. And then I give the final approval.”
Cualoping said Cabrera fully disclosed to PCO his past stint with former Senator Marcos.
“But just like in any offices, we hire on the merits of credentials as well, not because of political affiliations. Of course, political affiliations, yes. But he’s good. He’s brilliant,” he said.
On the blunder, Cualoping said he was just being “fair” when he approved the posting of the “agnostic” birthday card about Marcos – that it was devoid of political color.
“I was not thinking of the Marcos family when I gave the approval last night. It was really making it fair. We also did it for President [Ramon] Magsaysay, for President [Sergio] Osmeña, and we also did it for Senator Ninoy Aquino.”
He also said: “From our government point of view, the Gazette point of view, it should be blind in terms of political colors. But if you want to look at it in the political perspective, then you can hear it from the Presidential Communications’ page, not the Gazette page.”