‘Instead of thanking them for going out of their way to help the epidemic-stricken Filipino people, the PLLO is doing just the opposite.’
THERE is an office in Malacañang Palace that handles matters of liaising between the Executive Department and the Congress of the Philippines — both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Called the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO), its first marching order is to help effect and maintain a close relationship between the President and the lawmakers.
If the Chief Executive needs anything from the House or the Senate, it is the job of the PLLO to provide the follow-up. This office is headed by a secretary and two undersecretaries, one for each chamber. Presidents past and present like to appoint former and/or retired representatives to these positions, the better to make them effective in their work since lawmakers usually know each other. Congressmen, too, are adept in the game of wheeling and dealing, so Palace requests get the backing of representatives if the PLLO officials rub their backs the right way.
Congresspersons are jealous of their turf and understandably so. They frown on individuals who are not members of the House when they walk on the floor for any business banter with congressmen — even if they are from the PLLO. But if the PLLO officials are former members of the House, it seems okay if they sometimes sally forth on the floor to exchange jokes with the lawmakers. This is why former Congressmen Conrado Apacible (Erap’s time) and Jerome Paras (present time) will make good PLLOs.
Liaison work requires good PR, exemplary social graces and upright behavior especially when one is doing the liaison for the President, and dealing with a specific group of hard-to-please officials like members of the House of Representatives.
So it comes as a surprise that PLLO Undersecretary Paras was denounced on the floor by Quezon 4th District Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan for using Tik Tok to post a video insinuating that the DOJ is investigating her and her husband, DPWH Regional Director Ronnel Tan, for alleged corruption concerning a hospital business. The video, now removed from social media, was attributed to the website sovereign.ph.com which is owned by Paras, according to Congresswoman Tan and the records of the Department of Trade and Industry.
The same video showed footage of the Tan couple’s house taken from a drone which the congresswoman alleged to have been flown by the PLLO undersecretary, thereby violating her basic right to privacy. Tan is surprised Paras went to the trouble of using Tik Tok, a popular entertaining app, to hit her, but when hailed to the NBI to explain, the PLLO undersecretary declined.
Congresswoman Tan, now the chair of the House Committee on Health, is a team player in the Duterte administration, especially in its official response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A physician-lawmaker, Tan proved her mettle during the height of the pandemic. She and Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go of the Senate’s Health committee have tirelessly worked on how health-related legislation can help the nation recover from the pandemic. Instead of thanking them for going out of their way to help the epidemic-stricken Filipino people, the PLLO is doing just the opposite.