Cebu Citizens-Press Council

Being accountable comes with being free

F.O.I. ordinance didn’t make it to Mayor Rama’s First 100 Days list. Process of legislation and enforcement mechanism not yet complete.

October 3, 2022 · No Comments

Cebu City Ordinance #2657, also called Freedom of Information Act of 2019, was signed into law last July 28, 2022  by Mayor Michael Rama. Today, 67 days  after the  signing, the ordinance is still inoperative.

              The ordinance is not yet complete, legislatively and administratively. The city’s Legal Office still has to list the exceptions to the ordinance and submit to the City Council for approval. And each department head and office at City Hall still has to designate its FOI officer. All the said officials are needed to complete the process of legislation and mechanism of enforcement. And all, except the Sanggunian members,  work under the mayor. 

City Councilor Francis Esparis, without media’s prodding, called out in a privileged speech last Sept. 21, 2022 – significantly, on Cebu Press Freedom day and during the Press Freedom Week celebration — for the city’s heads  of  office  to appoint their respective FOI officers. Esparis was the lone Cebu City official who publicly worried about the ordinance being incomplete.  

Mayor Rama would finish his first 100 days in office October 3. The mayor’s  accomplishments of the period may well include the FOI ordinance. He didn’t build a road or bridge by that ordinance, it could help make the travel of news and information from government to citizens easier and faster. Applause. Even though Mayor Rama  has yet to complete work on the FOI ordinance, there are still other sets of 100 days ahead. [] 

Pachico A. Seares, Executive Director

Cebu City, October 3, 2022

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CCPC hails signing of FOI ordinance

July 31, 2022 · No Comments

Statement of Cebu Citizens-Press Council on newly signed FOI Ordinance, July 28, 2022

         The Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) applauds the signing of the Freedom of Information (FOI) ordinance by Cebu City Mayor Michael “Mike” Rama.

           Last June 1, CCPC appealed to the City Council “to finish its work” on the ordinance before the term of the 15th Sangguniang Panlungsod was to end last June 30.  And the City Council did, with councilor, now Congressman, Eduardo “Edu” Rama Jr. as principal author.  And today, July 28, Mayor Rama signed the ordinance (#2657) into law.

          The new ordinance  is similar to the ordinance  (#3273), authored by then councilor Jose Daluz III, which  the 14th Sanggunian passed but Mayor Rama’s predecessor vetoed in 2017. 

            It is another step toward institutionalizing access to information, started with President Rodrigo Duterte’s executive order of July 23, 2016 that “operationalized” access to information in the executive branch.  The City ordinance seeks to provide the local mechanism for Cebu City Government offices “where the people’s right to information is upheld.”

             It has been a painfully slow program for FOI, thus the local media’s applause for each step taken on the road to better access, which the ordinance promises to provide, subject only to valid exceptions or limitations provided by the Constitution and laws and ordinances.

            QUALIFIER. CCPC notes though that that the approved ordinance does not include the qualifier that the Press Council had proposed in its appearance before the City Council and dialogue with then councilor Rama and in published statements, namely:

            That the procedure shall not mean that Cebu City Government offices   and their officials will require release of information, verbally or in a document, to go through the procedure prescribed in the ordinance. The FOI ordinance shall not do away with routine flow of news and information through press briefings, conferences and news releases. The city administration shall even encourage unilateral release of documents in hard copy or through email and digital news sites, as long as they don’t fall under the exceptions listed under the ordinance.

            CCPC hopes to see the FOI ordinance serve its avowed intent and purpose.   We  cannot rule out problems in implementation but the mayor, by executive order, or the City Council, by amendment, will have the option and means to  solve  them. We trust in their genuine wish to make the ordinance work. []

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Statement, June 1, 2022

June 2, 2022 · No Comments

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Cebu City Freedom of Information Ordinance (for third reading) (December 4, 2019)

June 2, 2022 · No Comments

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29th Cebu Press Freedom Week

September 21, 2021 · No Comments

The men and women of Cebu’s news media once again come together to celebrate Cebu Press Freedom Week. Cebu Citizens-Press Council’s contributions to this year’s event include the relaunching of the 2004 Cebu Press Freedom Song featuring Ms. Eva Santos and with a new video produced by Januar Yap (see link to video on the left).

Rolando “Rollie” Estabillo, chairman-president of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), shares his message of solidarity with the CCPC and Cebu’ Media, reminding us that Cebu is the bastion of freedom fighters. So while the odds might not look good for the community media sector, with a myriad of threats from the COVID-19 pandemic to social media, fake news and the more traditional threats from the people in power, upholding press freedom and seeking the truth have never been more important (see link to the left for Mr. Estabillo’s message).

The CCPC has updated its list of attacks on media workers. An analysis of these attacks and a discussion on why it is so important that we document assaults on media workers, whether or not these assaults or acts of harassment are results of the victims’ media work, will be published simultaneously. A link will be posted later.

On September 22, a webinar on safety issues for the working press vis-a-vis the COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming 2022 general elections will be conducted by the Presidential Task Force on Media Security. The CCPC thanks Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco for organizing this seminar for Cebu’s media. The webinar will be streamed live on the PTFoMS Facebook page.

Cebu City, September 21, 2021

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