Cebu Citizens-Press Council

Being accountable comes with being free

CCPC seeks release of Capitol documents without written request

November 24th, 2016 · No Comments

OPINION OF THE CEBU CITIZENS-PRESS COUNCIL ON GOV. JUNJUN DAVIDE’S EXECUTIVE ORDER #15, S. 2016
Nov. 24, 2016

We appreciate the intent of Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III in its Executive Order #15, series of 2016, (dated Aug. 30, 2016 but released in its final form only recently).

The governor’s E.O. affirms freedom of information that President Duterte’s E.O. of July 23, 2016 proclaims, providing a mechanism for Cebu Capitol’s executive department in which, it says, “right of the people to information is respected and upheld.”

We in media, being more directly affected by government laws or rules on freedom of information, have studied the Cebu Capitol’s E.O. #15 and consulted one another, particularly the beat reporters and photographers who cover the local government unit.

We respectfully and earnestly suggest:

[] That documents and other information of public interest be released without the need of a written request and speedily by circulating it digitally, on Capitol’s website or in email to media organizations.

Capitol can set up a clearing panel that approves each document or other information after determining whether it falls under any exception provided by the president’s E.O. or existing laws. That panel may decide on immediate release or temporary non-release.

Capitol may still regulate release without unnecessarily hampering the flow of information, especially when it affects the work of media. A more efficient system also frees Capitol from the burden of an additional layer in bureaucracy.

Under the president’s E.O., access is the rule and refusal only an exception.

[] That the approving authority be limited to the department head or the public information office, not to both, to reduce bureaucracy and, for that purpose, time for action by the office concerned be reduced;

[] That the LGU cannot use as reason for denial any fact or situation other than any of the exceptions provided by the Constitution and existing laws. Personal motive–except for purpose contrary to law, morals or public order–cannot justify non-release of a public document or information.

[] That the LGU cannot be more stringent than the president’s executive order or the F.O.I. law that Congress may enact.

Governor Davide will be CCPC’s resource person at its en banc meeting on Dec. 1. Expected to get some attention is his executive order.

PACHICO A. SEARES
Executive Director

Tags: CCPC Papers and Resolutions