Presidential Guest House, Malacañang
28 July 2016
Led by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar, documents concerning the Executive Order on Freedom of Information (FOI) signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on July 23, 2016 were handed over to Malou Mangahas of the Right to Know, Right Now Coalition, an organization advocating the passing of the FOI Bill.
In a ceremony held at the Premier Guest House in Malacañang, Mangahas said that the coalition is committed to continue to work in the crafting of the People’s FOI Manual and in clarifying the inventory of exemptions.
“These are very good steps, we believe, that moves forward the respect, observance and enforcement of people’s right to know… We’re committed to working further to make this EO,” added Mangahas, who is also the Executive Director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, one of the authors and supporters of the FOI Bill, explained that the EO covers only the Executive Branch. The Legislative and Judicial Branches, and the local government units (LGUs) are not covered by the EO. He also said that the Senate’s version of the bill has a provision that includes private entities that have a contract with the government in the coverage.
Meanwhile, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP), represented by its Chairman, Herman Basbaño, and its President, Ruperto Nicdao Jr., thanked President Duterte for the issuance of the EO, which they said is a bold step towards greater transparency and the fight against corruption.
“I’m also hoping that Philippine Congress would enact a law so that all levels of government will also be covered,” Basbaño said.
According to Secretary Medialdea, an ad hoc committee will be formed to create the manuals with the assistance of various organizations, including World Bank, which has a technocrat from the United Kingdom (UK) and has an extensive expertise on the FOI technical working group in the UK. The committee will be headed by PCO.
Secretary Andanar said that the committee will start working on the FOI manual after the EO is publicized and once they received the exemptions that will be included in the manual from the Solicitor General of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Also present in the ceremonial turnover were World Bank Senior Operations Officer Hanif Rahemtulla, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate, members of the Right to Know, Right Now Coalition, and representatives from the labor sector.