, October 20, 2005
(STAR) Malacañang confirmed Thursday earlier unofficial reports that Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio R. Bunye will be designated as the new "overall supervisor and media coordinator" of the Arroyo government.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, in a radio interview this morning, said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has authorized the re-alignment of the Office of the Communications Director (OCD), formerly headed by Secretary Silvestre Afable, to now become the Presidential Communications Group (PCG) under Bunye’s supervision.

"What will happen is that Secretary Bunye will become overall supervisor and media coordinator in the Palace", Ermita explained in Filipino.

Afable had vacated the OCD post to concentrate on the peace talks with the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) by the government of which he is chief negotiator.

Ermita said Bunye will remain as Presidential Spokesperson and Presidential Communications Group chief on a concurrent capacity.

He added that all the communications activities of the Office of the President (OP), then handled by Afable as the former OCD head, will now be devolved to Bunye as the overall communications chief of Malacañang.

To lighten his administrative responsibilities, Bunye has designated his chief of staff and Press Undersecretary for Operations Robert T. Rivera to supervise and manage the OPS during his absence or "whenever I am unavailable to act on official papers."

In a separate radio interview, Bunye said that in lieu of the OCD, a committee of three or four, which he will head, will take care of Palace media concerns and relaying official messages from the President.

"That’s the general direction the President wants – a small group which will meet regularly to tackle the various issues and guidelines related to communications," he said in the vernacular.

Bunye said the names of his two or three other associates will be announced shortly.

Palace official defends police on rally dispersals 10/20 3:17:15 PM

A top Malacañang official Thursday came to the defense of members of law enforcement in the wake of last Friday’s controversial dispersal of the prayer rally near Mendiola.

In a statement, Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye said, "We should always give the police the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the enforcement of the law."

"They are not there to pick a fight but to protect the community and the society," Bunye said.

He added that, "We seem to forget that they take the brunt of insult and abuse in the frontlines and get hosed down too along with rallyists."

Likewise, the concurrent presidential spokesperson noted that the policemen "should be recognized for their courage, forbearance and loyalty to the law."

The Arroyo administration is currently under attack for its 'violent dispersals' of demonstrations critical of the goverment, supposedly part of its policy of calibrated preemptive response (CPR).

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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