PRESIDENT FERDINAND Marcos, Jr. has named a Communication Arts alumna and UST law graduate as officer-in-charge (OIC) and undersecretary of the Office of the Press Secretary, the lead communication arm of the government.
Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil, who finished her Communication Arts degree in 1992, assumed leadership of the OPS last week, replacing lawyer and vlogger Trixie Cruz-Angeles, who had resigned supposedly due to health reasons.
Garafil was appointed chief of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in June but resigned last Friday to become Marcos’ press secretary.
Asked in a recent interview why she was designated as an OIC, not as a full-fledged secretary, Garafil said titles are not important and that what matters is that she has the President’s trust.
As OIC of the government’s lead communication unit, Garafil will oversee efforts to spread information about the programs of Marcos, who has been accused by his critics of benefiting from disinformation during the 2022 elections.
Last February, Marcos, then a candidate for president, described “fake news” as “dangerous” and that something has to be done about it. Days before the May 2022 polls, fact-checking group Tsek.ph reported that 92 percent of fact checks as of April 30 were “false” or “misleading” information in favor of Marcos.
At a Palace press briefing last Wednesday, Garafil said the OPS regards “fake news” as a “serious” matter and vowed to roll out programs that would address the problem.
Garafil will also supervise the operations of state-run television stations People’s Television Network, Inc. and Intercontinental Broadcasting Corp. and OPS-attached entities namely APO Production Unit, the Bureau of Broadcast Services, National Printing Office, and the News and Information Bureau.
This is not the first communications job of Garafil, having served as media director and public relations officer of former president and former House speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Garafil initially took up journalism but shifted to Communication Arts later on. She obtained her law degree also from UST in 2002. A year later, she passed the bar exam.
Last year, Garafil earned a master’s degree in National Security Administration from the National Defense College of the Philippines.
Before becoming a lawyer, Garafil worked as a journalist for more than ten years in Malaya, the Philippine Daily Globe, the Central News Agency, and the Associated Press.
Garafil also worked as a prosecutor at the Department of Justice, a state solicitor at the Office of the Solicitor General, and service director at the House of Representatives’ Committee on Rules. F – K. R. Nogoy