Cebu Citizens-Press Council

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Ombudsman bares policy on release of information

April 20th, 2015 · No Comments

April 20, 2015

The Visayas ombudsman may grant request from media for information on “final disposition” of cases involving public interest.

That, despite the existing ombudsman policy on confidentiality under its rules of procedure (Section 2, Rule V), office order (88-92), and a 1996 memorandum.

The general rule observed by the office is that “no publicity shall be made of matters which may adversely affect national security or public interest, prejudice the safety of witnesses or the disposition of the case, or unduly expose persons complained against to ridicule or public censure.”

Paul Elmer M. Clemente, deputy for the ombudsman for the Visayas, repeated and clarified its policy in answer to a letter of inquiry from Pachico A. Seares, executive director of the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC).

Seares’s letter followed Clemente’s talk at CCPC’s en banc meeting last December, in which the anti-graft official spelled out the rules on access to information at the ombudsman’s office.

The ombudsman’s office as a matter of policy won’t release documents on pending cases, including newly filed complaints. Journalists usually turn to the parties, especially the complainant for that information.

On requests for copies of “finally-disposed” cases involving public interest, the ombudsman requires (1) proof of media affiliation or accreditation, (2) explanation of specific purpose of the request, and (3) no derogatory record of misusing a previously issued document and no ground to believe motive is improper or illegal. If the ombudsman approves the request, document will be released after payment of fees.

For statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALNs) filed with the Visayas ombudsman, the office requires (1) a filled-out SALN request form, (2) a government-issued ID card and an official press credential, and (3) payment of fees.

Clemente also told CCPC:
—The Public Information and Media Relations Bureau (PIMRB) of the Ombudsman’s central office has included Visayas-based media in its mailing list for all issued press releases. (This request was first made by CCPC in last December’s meeting.)
—Information and real-time updates may also be checked in the ombudsman’s website and Twitter and Facebook accounts.
—Requests forms on SALNs and status-of-case documents may be downloaded from the ombudsman’s website.

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