Presidential Communications chief and acting presidential spokesperson Secretary Martin Andanar received the Presidential Award of Merit for his office’s contribution to the country’s pandemic response.,President Rodrigo Duterte bestowed the award to Andanar during a ceremony in Malacañang on Thursday night.,“Last night, I was a recipient of the said prestigious award for the Presidential Communications Office and Office of the Presidential Spokesperson’s humble contribution to the Inter-Agency Taskforce on Emerging Infectious Diseases’ operations to fight Covid-19,” Andanar wrote in a Facebook post.,The senior Palace official, who took the helm of the Presidential Communications Operations Office since Duterte assumed office in 2016, dedicated the award to his family and to all the “men and women of my department who worked hard with me to communicate the government’s message during the most difficult times of the pandemic.”,These included members of the PCOO’s Laging Handa Team and Covid-19 Stratcom team, as well as staff of the PCOO admin and finance, Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, and other attached agencies.,Andanar’s office has been mounting weekday televised briefings dubbed “Laging Handa” since the height of the pandemic in 2020 to disseminate information on the government’s anti-Covid efforts.,The Presidential Award of Merit is one of the highest awards conferred by a Philippine President to individuals in recognition of their contribution to nation-building. — With a report from MJ BLANCAFLOR