Cebu Citizens-Press Council

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Mandaue City order on media interviews ‘violates intent’ of Duterte’s E.O. on FOI

December 2nd, 2016 · No Comments

CEBU CITIZENS-PRESS COUNCIL RESOLUTION #2, SERIES OF 2016, REQUESTING MANDAUE CITY MAYOR LUIGI QUISUMBING TO LIFT RESTRICTION ON MEDIA INTERVIEWS

WHEREAS, Mandaue City Mayor Gabriel Luis Quisumbing has issued Memorandum Order CMO-080816 dated Aug. 8, 2016, signed by Atty. Mae Elaine Bathan, his chief of staff, under the mayor’s authority;

WHEREAS, the said M.O. directs “department heads and employees to refrain from accepting media interviews and questions from the press without prior consultation with the Mandaue City P.I.O. (public information officer) or this office (office of the mayor)”;

WHEREAS, while both Mayor Quisumbing and Atty. Bathan clarified in public statements that:

— The M.O. is not a “gag on media,” the mayor having espoused a policy of an “open relationship” with the press;
— The order aims to “enable the P.I.O. to assist department heads” in releasing information to the public, thus providing a “clear and unified” presentation;
— It does not limit access to information or freedom of the press.

WHEREAS, the result of the M.O. is far from its declared intent and even negates that intent: since its issuance, most department heads and employees have shunned interviews with reporters, even refusing to answer simple questions about matters of public interest;

WHEREAS, the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists (CFBJ) has received feedback from ground reporters and camera crew of news outlets, summarized thus in a consultation with CCPC secretariat directors last Nov. 16, 2016:

— Clamming up of department heads and employees who would rather refuse to answer questions, obviously not wishing to risk reprimand or sanction;
— Consequent inability of beat reporters to verify or supplement their information with data from department heads or employees who are valuable sources, being familiar with their respective fields of service;

WHEREAS, President Duterte has issued an executive order on freedom of information, which encourages local governments to enforce in their respective units; the Mandaue M.O., according to CFBJ in a resolution (#2016-1116-A) “violates the spirit” of the presidential executive order;

WHEREAS, Mandaue City’s “no-clearance, no-interview” rule, rated on the basis of its effect on City Hall personnel, is clearly a gag order;

NOW THEREFORE, on motion of Elias O. Baquero, be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved, by the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) in its 45th quarterly en banc meeting, that it earnestly and strongly request Mandaue City Mayor Luigi Quisumbing to rescind or modify Memorandum Order CMO-080816 dated Aug. 8, 2016.

APPROVED this first day of December, 2016 at the MBF Cebu Press Center in Sudlon, Lahug, Cebu City, Philippines.

Certified correct:

PACHICO A. SEARES
Executive Director

Tags: CCPC Papers and Resolutions