FOI to be implemented next week
(The Philippine Star) - July 8, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - In response to “constant and insistent demand” from the media, a Freedom of Information (FOI) measure is expected to be implemented in the executive branch next week through an order to be issued by President Duterte.

The President said last night he decided to “hurry up the process” to put the measure in place, but that his decision was separate from whatever action Congress or the judiciary might take on the matter. 

“I can only mind the executive department, my branch of government. I cannot mind judiciary and Congress because of separation of powers. It’s up to Congress, if they want they can file – maybe come up with copy of FOI law. This is just an executive order,” Duterte told PTV-4. 

Duterte said the draft EO operationalizes in the “executive branch the people’s constitutional right to information and the state policies of full public disclosure and transparency in the public service and providing guidelines thereof of the freedom of information.”

The Chief Executive said he expects the FOI measure implemented “at the very least next week.”

The EO may well be President Duterte’s initial move to mend fences with media, Malacañang said.

“FOI will be our first step towards that direction,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told The STAR on the sidelines of the celebration of the United States’ Independence Day in Makati last Wednesday.

Andanar said the EO on FOI, which would require agencies under the executive branch to disclose details of their transactions, might be signed today.

Malacañang officials met with transparency advocates at midweek to thresh out details of the order.

Andanar said the EO on FOI would be signed ahead of the opening of the 17th Congress. A proposed FOI law was repeatedly bypassed in Congress due to opposition by lawmakers who were worried that this might be used to destroy reputations.

Media groups, among other sectors, have been asking for an FOI law for transparency in government.

“I will issue an executive order. No need for a law. Media and everybody else are welcome to dig deep into the papers,” Duterte was earlier quoted as saying.

The cordial relationship between Duterte and the media got strained last month after the President said some of the slain journalists were extortionists or were involved in dubious transactions.

Duterte has drawn flak for his comment, which some reports interpreted as an endorsement of extrajudicial killings. He, however, denied this, saying he was just reminding journalists about corruption in their ranks.

Duterte has since boycotted the media and has vowed not to grant interviews until the end of his term to avoid “mistakes.”

FOI: Duterte’s EO No. 2

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said the FOI would serve as Duterte’s EO 2.

During the campaign, Duterte said the FOI in the executive branch would be his first EO. His first EO, however, dealt with the reorganization of the Office of the President.

Medialdea explained that EO 1 dealt with the “reengineering” of the Office of the President because there were so many attached agencies and offices under the OP.

He said the setup at the President’s office was so “unwieldy” so an EO addressing it had to be issued immediately.

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