CCPC wants 2 provisions added in local FOI
First, the inventory of exceptions the City Legal Office is directed to prepare shall not include any item that is not provided by the Constitution or existing national law or presidential executive order.
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CCPC wants 2 provisions added in local FOI
Mary Ruth R. Malinao (The Freeman) - January 26, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) has requested for the inclusion of its recommendations on some provisions of the proposed Freedom of Information (FOI) ordinance.

CCPC, in a resolution, lobbied for the inclusion of two provisions.

First, the inventory of exceptions the City Legal Office is directed to prepare shall not include any item that is not provided by the Constitution or existing national law or presidential executive order.

CCPC said the local law cannot be more restrictive or difficult than the national regulation.

“In case of doubt, interpretation shall be resolved in favor of more and freer access,” it said.

Second, elective officials and department heads shall routinely upload for downloading, through the local government's website, records and other documents of public interest that are not in the inventory of exceptions, which shall be deemed compliance with the ordinance.

“Pro-active and efficient release of information shall be the rule,” the council added.

According to CCPC, procedure on request and release of information shall not prevent routine in the flow of information in such interactions between public officials and media as press conferences, interviews and publicity releases. Prior written request shall be required only when required to settle a question whether the information can be released.

“A different rule will complicate bureaucracy, flood the LGU with requests, and hamper media work in which time is of the essence. For the purpose, efficient means of access shall be provided by the local government,” the resolution read.

Copies of the request were forwarded to Councilors Eduardo Rama Jr. and Alvin Dizon, who authored the ordinance operationalizing FOI in Cebu City and providing guidelines thereof.

The proposed ordinance seeks to apply locally the provisions of President Rodrigo Duterte's Executive Order No. 2 entitled “Operationalizing in the Executive Branch the People’s Constitutional Right to Information and the State Policies to Full Public Disclosure and Transparency in the Public Service and Providing Guidelines Therefor” on July 23, 2016.

Lawyer Pachico Seares, CCPC executive director, said the “CCPC along with a number of journalists in the city, had been left out of a supposed public hearing on the proposal.”

However, CCPC, on its initiative, conducted a media forum last December 12, 2019, with Rama as guest, he said.

CCPC backs FOI

On the other hand, CCPC expressed its support to the “fresh initiative,” urging its approval by the City Council and the mayor.

Even before the proposed ordinance, Seares said the CCPC issued a position paper expressing support, along with a recommendation, at the public hearing on a similar FOI proposal filed by then councilor Jose “Joey” Daluz III.

The Council passed Councilor Daluz's ordinance but the mayor vetoed it, saying he would wait for the FOI bill to be approved by Congress.

“CCPC shares the belief that a local FOI ordinance now will improve public and media access to, and sharing by the government of, information of public interest. The ordinance may be easily adjusted to the law, which, given the pace of legislation, may take Congress many more years to pass,” CCPC said.  KQD (FREEMAN)

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