Cebu Citizens-Press Council

Being accountable comes with being free

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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CCPC condemns murder of radio commentator Rey Cortes

July 22, 2021 · No Comments

STATEMENT

Cebu City, July 22, 2021

CCPC seeks police creation of  task force.
Staffer or block timer , broadcaster Rey Cortes was a media worker.

                    The Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) requests the police to investigate thoroughly and speedily the killing of dyRB broadcaster Reynante “Rey”  Cortes who hosted the commentary program “Engkwentro” on dyRB  in Cebu City. Cortes was gunned down Thursday morning, July 22  right outside the radio station in Mambaling.

  Whether he was a regular staff member or block-timer of dyRB does not change this fact: He was a media practitioner whose killers should be arrested and prosecuted. Cortes’s murder, under Standard Operating Procedure 2012-006 dated November 12, 2012  was deemed  a “heinous and sensational crime.”  The case requires an investigation by an SITG or Special Investigation Task Group. Media practitioners are included in the same category  as vice governors, PB members, mayors, vice mayors, councilors, barangay captains and councilors, judges, prosecutors and lawyers, and militants.

Media workers are not special people and do not expect special treatment. The local community of journalists  will be content with diligent crime investigation that, sadly,  people had not seen applied to similar cases of violence against media workers and other high-profile personalities. An SITG inquiry may help cut down public skepticism.  

Given the total of 223 cases of attacks and threats against media since 2016 (as of May 1, 2021),  CCPC worries about how another unsolved murder of a media worker could  heighten the state of impunity that various sectors of society, not just the press, fear and condemn.  If a media worker’s life could be easily snuffed out, violence could replace democracy’s regular means of discourse. 

The Cortes murder appears to be work-related but even if it were not,  it was still a disruption of Cebu’s peace and order, a desecration of community values should it  go unpunished.

Atty. Pachico A. Seares, Executive Director

Rey Cortes. From Facebook
Rey Cortes handling his daily radio program Engkwentro, aired 7:30-8:30 in the morning over dyRB AM 540 KHz. Screen shot, Facebook page of DYRB Radyo Pilipino Cebu.

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