Text and photos by Karol Ilagan

Nov. 30 protest, Marcos Burial, 3, KMILagan PCIJ

HISTORY and a whole lot of hugot fueled the protest action by Filipinos of all age groups on Wednesday, Nov. 30, against the sneaky burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani of the deposed strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Nov. 30 protest, Marcos Burial, 7, KMILagan PCIJ

Pop culture and millennial-speak defined the placards and posters of various make, messages, and color dotted the sea of people that gathered at EDSA People Power Monument on White Plains Avenue in Quezon City.

Nov 30 protest v Marcos burial, KMIlagan  PCIJ
One rallyist held a placard that read: “Kay crush, di ako maka-move on, kay Marcos pa kaya!”

In front of the stage stood out a poster that read, “Imelda wears Prada,” an apparent allusion to the comedy-drama film, The Devil Wears Prada.

Fans of the popular fantasy TV series Game of Thrones, meanwhile, quickly recognized the banner with the words, “A Marcos Never Pays (His) Debt,” an allusion to the fictional Lannister family, who typically pays their debt.

Nov. 30 protest, Marcos Burial, 5, KMILagan PCIJ
Dr. Maria Serena Diokno, who had resigned day before as chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, called on the youth to strive to know and learn history.

Diokno said that while the Supreme Court may have ruled that Marcos could be buried at the Libingan, what can be done is far different from what should be done.

Nov. 30 protest, Marcos Burial, 2, KMILagan PCIJ

This is the third major rally organized in Metro Manila after the Marcos family interred the remains of the late dictator at the heroes’ cemetery a fortnight ago. The first mobilization was held at the same venue on Nov. 18 and the second, at the Luneta in Manila on Nov. 25. — PCIJ, November 2016

Nov. 30 protest, Marcos Burial, 8, KMILagan PCIJ

Nov. 30 protest, Marcos Burial, 10, KMILagan PCIJ

Nov. 30 protest, Marcos Burial, 12, KMILagan PCIJ

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OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio-Morales on Friday offered sharp and powerful messages on the most contentious issues in the country today. In a speech before the University of the Philippines Law Alumni Association in Makati City on November 25, Morales said:

On the precipitate burial at the Libingan ng mga bayani of deposed strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Morales said:

“with As it turns out nowadays, those who could not remember history have the tendency to write a new one. Much worse, there are a lot of people who simply do not want to read their history [period (.)].

“This alarming attitude is appalling, to say the least, which opens a large portion of society vulnerable to a revisionist-distortionist proclivity. It is an affront to our collective consciousness as a nation, aside from adding insult to injury to the entire citizenry as collective victims of the kleptocratic act of stashing ill-gotten wealth as judicially ascertained.”

On finding the truth, amid the contentious discourse, Morales said:

“The monstrosity of supremacy and the trappings of power aptly explain why great people fall as prey and transform as predators themselves.Just because you can, does not mean you should. The relevant message is that we cannot pretend to end impunity by clothing ourselves with impunity as well.He who enforces accountability must himself be ready to assume accountability.

“What happens then in a post-truth era when truth becomes irrelevant: discussions become irreverent. This is exactly what is happening.Now it is not only truth that has become elusive, even reason has escaped us.

“With the advent of social media in the country saw the birth of post-truth politics where emotional impact rather than truth is what matters. There is a lack of demand for truthful and honest discourse. Facebook has become a searing battleground for propagandists, apologists and trolls to foment dissension to a vulnerable, ill-informed young population that acknowledges Google as the sole and primary source of information for just about everything.

“A big part of the population would rather believe and share fake news sites and echo the baseless assertions of dubious bloggers and flamebaiters. They no longer care to verify the veracity of these allegations. When supposed “truths” about martial law and the purported “progress” that the Philippines enjoyed during the regime are considered more fact than fiction, then we see a transformation of our values as a people.

“With no effort to set the facts straight, quite a number consequently fail to discern, distinguish and detect misdeeds that deserve to be denounced. This comes as a great cause for concern. The people should be bothered when the leaders themselves equally could not figure out what is right and wrong.”

On the intrinsic link between human rights and good governance, Morales said:

“Back to basics.Thou shall not steal.Thou shall not kill. When leaders seem to send the message of promoting rather than condemning reprehensible acts that transgress basic human rights, the people ought to be concerned about it, rather than cheering for it either out of sheer ignorance, callous conscience, blind loyalty or gorgonized fanaticism.

“In linking corruption and human rights violations, one study concludes that when corruption thrives, human rights are denied, and correlatively, when denial of human rights continues, corruption persists:

“…The country needs good men and women who can respond to the call for principled leadership with not only competence and courage but also compassion, conscience and consistency.”

— PCIJ, November 2016

Text and Photos by Davinci Maru

IT IS TYPICAL for a community to greet the burial of the dead with solemn, silent mourning, in respect and remembrance.

But the atypical clandestine, sneaky burial of deposed strongman Ferdinand Marcos sparked just the opposite response — an outcry of protest and anger across the nation.

On Friday, November 25, thousands of Filipinos in various cities expressed not respect but rage for the rushed burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. They burned and tore up his effigies, launched a torrent of #HeroMoMukhaMo online posts, wore black, and hurled banners emblazoned with sharp, critical comments on the corruption and repression that marked his rule as a despot for nearly two decades.

Burying Marcos at the cemetery for heroes mocks, they say, the memory of tens of thousands of political activists that he had sent to jail, torture, or summary execution. The rushed burial that happened with evident consent from President Rodrigo R. Dutete (even as the high court has yet to rule with finality on the issue) betrays yet again the evidently typical behavior of the Marcoses — impunity and indifference to rule of law and due process.

 

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STATEMENT OF THE CENTER FOR MEDIA FREEDOM AND RESPONSIBILITY

THE SEVENTH anniversary of the massacre of 58 civilians, including 32 journalists, in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, draws our community once again to gather together, move through the motions of protest, raise voices to plea for justice for the victims and their surviving families. Some of the orphaned children are now young adults, the infants and toddlers left behind by fallen media workers are grown, with little memory of their lost parents. The widows, parents, brothers, and sisters have ceased their deep mourning perhaps because life must go on.

This year we are struck sharply by the impact of the impunity, the failure of the state to punish. Less than a week ago, a dictator was laid to rest in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, to favor his family’s request for military honors and a place for his remains among heroes. Ferdinand Marcos claimed the presidency for life, manipulating the political system, controlling the economy for his personal gain and those of his cronies, his military and police dealing with every challenge to authority with warrantless arrests and detention, torture, salvaging, causing countless dissidents to disappear. Last Friday, the military did all to please his family, as a favor to the sitting president.

Meanwhile, the Ampatuan trial has taken so long, we need to rouse our memories to revive the cause. This long wait and the Marcos burial in the LNMB are different kinds of political phenomena, but these show up the state’s uneven instruments for justice and the unequal responses to the needs of the rich and the poor. Both reflect the culture of impunity that afflicts all citizens, especially those who have no means for legal representation in courts when their rights or lives are taken.

The trial of the 195 accused in Ampatuan Massacre was designed for delay, a nod to another political alliance. A lengthy trial allows more time for highly paid lawyers to manipulate the court system, argue through technical loopholes. Delays can wear down or lose witnesses and their testimonies. Sanctioned by the rules of court, the system seems designed only for lawyers and those who can afford them.

Three years ago, in December 2013, the Supreme Court has passed a resolution to allow the judge to decide cases against the accused separately, but no rulings have been made as yet on any of the persons charged. Meanwhile, the bail petition of the primary accused, Datu Andal “Unsay”Ampatuan Jr. is still pending. Indeed, the prosecution lost two witnesses who were killed in separate incidents.

Under the previous administration, an official of the Department of Justice (DOJ) had assured the public and the families of the massacre victims that there will be convictions by the end of President Aquino’s term in 2016. That deadline has now passed.

The call for justice is not for victims alone but for all Filipinos. For what can the future hold for us if the state, its officials and instruments serve only the rich and powerful. The culture of impunity is selective. Conviction and punishment are decided quickly when the offenders are poor and without the means to pay for legal defense.

This call for justice points to the need of reform of the judicial system. Its weaknesses sustain the conditions of impunity which in turn punishes us all equally.

Text by Jil Danielle Caro, Photos and Video by Davinci Maru

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Kin of victims, various groups, media organizations, advocates, and individuals held a demonstration in Mendiola, Manila yesterday to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre.

Seven years ago, the deadliest single attack on media in the Philippine history happened at Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan. Moreover, the Ampatuan Massacre is also considered as the worst incident of electoral violence in the country.

Fifty eight (58) were killed, including 32 media workers, 9 from the Mangudadatu clan, 6 supporters, 3 lawyers, 2 van drivers and 6 incidental victims, or those who were during the checkpoint at the time of interception.

The full names of the Ampatuan massacre victims are as follow:

Media workers:

  • Benjie Adolfo
  • Henry Araneta
  • McDelbert Arriola
  • Rubello Bataluna
  • Arturo Betia
  • Romeo Jimmy Cabillo
  • Marites Cablitas
  • Hannibal Cachuela
  • Jepon Cadagdagon
  • John Caniban
  • Lea Dalmacio
  • Noel Decina
  • Gina Dela Cruz
  • Jhoy Duhay
  • Jolito Evardo
  • Santos Gatchalian
  • Bienvenido Legarte, Jr.
  • Lindo Lupogan
  • Ernesto Maravilla
  • Rey Merisco
  • Marife Montaño
  • Rossell Morales
  • Victor Nuñez
  • Ronnie Perante
  • Joel Parcon
  • Fernando Razon
  • Alejandro Bong Reblando
  • Napoleon Salaysay
  • Francisco Subang
  • Andres Teodoro
  • Daniel Tiamson
  • Reynaldo Momay

Mangudadatu Clan:

  • Bai Genalin Tiamzon Mangudadatu
  • Bai Eden Gaguil Mangudadatu
  • Bai Farinah Mangudadatu Hassan
  • Rowena Ante Mangudadatu
  • Surayyda Gaguil Bernan
  • Wahida Ali Kaliman
  • Mamotabai Mangudadatu
  • Raida Abdul Sapalon
  • Faridah Sabdullah Gaguil

Supporters:

  • Pinky Balayman
  • Lailani Balayman
  • Eugene Demillo Pamansag
  • Abdillah Ayada
  • Rahima Palawan
  • Meriam Calimbol

Lawyers:

  • Cynthia Oquendo
  • Concepcion Brizuela Jayme
  • Catalino Oquendo

Van Drivers:

  • Norton Edza Ebus
  • Razul Daud Bulilo

Incidental Victims:

  • Wilhelm Palabrica
  • Mercy Catalino Palabrica
  • Eduardo Lichonsito
  • Cecille Lichonsito
  • Daryll Vincent de los Reyes
  • Anthony Ridao

The massacre led to a tremor not only to the country, but to the world. Moreover, it highly contributed to the movement to end impunity and call to stop killings, as well as harassment of journalists in all forms, in the Philippines and across the globe.

Justice Delayed, Justice Denied

Today, seven years later, justice is still denied.

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The Ampatuan clan patriarch and alleged mastermind, Andal Ampatuan Sr., already died of liver cancer last July 17, 2015 at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Quezon City.

Andal Ampatuan Sr.’s death prior to his verdict due to stagnant justice granted him to be extinguished from his criminal liability, as per Philippines’ Rule on Criminal Procedure.

On the other hand, Sajid Islam Ampatuan, one of the accused, was granted freedom through a P11.6-million bail.

Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City ordered the immediate release of Sajid Islam Ampatuan through an order made on March 9, 2015.

Moreover, the case trial remains slow.

Four (4) witnesses have been murdered throughout the trial namely: Alijol Ampatuan, Suwaib Upham, Dennis Sakal, and Esmail Amil Anog.

As of January 14, 2015, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility in its Ampatuan Trial Watch initiative, reported that the number of accused for the massacre has already led to 246, which include local government officials and police officers.

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Arlyn Lupogan, 40, wife of slain journalist Lindo Lupogan thanked all those who are present in the commemoration, “Wala po akong masabi kundi magpasalamant sa lahat ng sumusuporta sa amin na makamtam namin ang hustisya, lalo na sa NUJP na laging sumusuporta sa amin, sa mga anak namin, sa pagtustos ng pag-aaral ng mga anak namin. Sa mga media po, maraming salamat, at sa lahat po ng mga estudyante rito na sumusuporta, taon-taon na lang. (I have nothing to say but thank you to all those who support to attain justice, especially to NUJP which always supports us, our children and their studies. To the media, thank you very much, and to all the students here who support every year.),” Lupogan said.

“Pitong taon na po. Pitong taon na na nangarap kami ng hustisya. Sana, ‘wag niyo kalimutan ang nangyari sa mga mahal naming sa buhay, sa brutal na pagpasalang sa kanila. (It has been seven years. For seven years, we have been dreaming of justice. I hope that you would not forget what happened to our loved ones, and the manner on which they were killed.)”

Call for genuine media freedom

According to the National Union of Journalist in the Philippines (NUJP), a 25-year study done by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) placed the Philippines second to Iraq, based on journalist killings.

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Virgilio Cuizon, founder of NUJP-Europe, said about the Ampatuan trial that “Wala pang nangyayari. Talagang zero justice. (Nothing is happening. Zero justice.)”

When asked about NUJP’s efforts in assisting the trial and advancing the interests of the Philippine press, Cuizon said that “Patuloy po ang pakikipag-ugnayan ng NUJP sa Kongreso, sa Senado, sa mga eskwelahan, para lamang mabigyan ng pansin ang kaso. (The NUJP continuously reach out to the Congress, Senate, and universities for the case.)”

“Sinusubaybayan po namin ang pamilya ng mga nasawi, at pinipilit po naming matulungan sa pag-aaral ang kanilang mga anak. May programa po kami talaga na pag-aaralin ang mga anak ng mga nasawing journalists, lalo na ng mga biktima ng Ampatuan massacre. (We keep in touch with the family of the victims, and we ensure that we are able to help their children with their studies. We have a program to help slain journalists’ children with their studies, especially the children of the victims of the Ampatuan massacre.), ” Cuizon added.

Regarding his expectations from the Duterte administration, Cuizon said, “Ineexpect po natin ay bigyan talagang pansin, seryosohin, at ikulong ang dapat makulong. (I expect that [President Duterte] will address, take seriously [the Ampatuan massacre trial], and to imprison those who should be put behind bars.)”

“Biglang laya talaga ang pamamahayag. ‘Wag habulin, ‘wag ikulong, ‘wag patayin [media workers]. (Give genuine freedom to journalism. Do not go after, do not imprison, and do not kill [media workers]).”

On the other hand, Jose Mari Callueng, National President of the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the oldest and broadest alliance of student publications in Asia-Pacific, is hopeful of the administration’s sincerity in the formation of Task Force Media Killings, and related the issue of impunity to campus press.

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“Kung totoo po ang Duterte sa kanilang call in forming Task Force Media Killings, this should reflect justice for the 32 journalists, and the other more. Sa span ng 25 years, mahigit kumulang 100 ang namatay na journalists eh, and lalo pa itong lumalala nang lumalala. (If the Duterte Administration is true to its call in forming Task Force Media Killings, this should reflect justice for the 32 journalists, and more. In the span of 25 years, more or less 100 journalists were killed, and it continuously worsens.),” said Callueng.

“Sa paghingi natin ng hustisya, hinihingi rin natin ang hustisya para sa campus press. Hindi malayo. Nire-reiterate natin na hindi malayo ang kinakaharap ng mainstream media sa kinakaharap ng campus press. Inaatake rin kami sa iba’t ibang porma: censorship, withholding of funds, nandiyan din ang harassment sa amin. Nire-red tag din ang mga campus press na ito na tagapamahayag lamang ng katotohanan. (In our quest for justice, we also want justice for the campus press. It is not different. We reiterate that the problems faced by the mainstream media is not different with those of the campus press. We are also being attacked in various forms: censorship, withholding of funds, and harassment. We are being red-tagged when we all do is tell the truth.),” Callueng added.

“Kaya inaasahan natin na the Task Force Media Killings should also reflect to campus level. Hindi lang naman mainstream media ang biktima, pati campus press. (We expect that the Task Force Media Killings should also reflect to campus level. The mainstream media is not the lone victim, but also the campus press.)”

“Inaasahan natin na ‘di na tayo dapat aabot ng isa pang taon muli…Dapat ngayon na ay mabigay ang hustisyang hinihingi ng pamilya ng mga biktima. (We expect that there will no longer be another year. Justice should be given now.),” Callueng ended. – November, 2016

Quote 1, ICC Prosecutor

THE PROSECUTOR of the international Criminal Court on Thursday served notice to the government of the Philippines that anyone inducing or engaging in “acts of mass violence… including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing, in any other manner, to the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC is potentially liable to prosecution before the Court.”

In a statement posted on the ICC’s official website, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said ICC was aware of the “worrying extrajudicial killings of alleged drug users and users, which may have led to over 3,000 deaths in the past three months.”

Bensouda said ICC was “deeply concerned” about these killings “and the fact that public statements of high officials of the Republic of the Philippines seem to condone such killings and further seem to encourage State forces and civilians alike to continue targeting these individuals with lethal force.”

“Extra-judicial killings,” the statement said, “may fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court… if they are committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population pursuant to a State policy to commit such an attack.”

The Philippines, it added, “is a State Party to the ICC and as such, the Court has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on the territory or by nationals of the Philippines since 1 November 2011, the date when the Statute entered into force in the Philippines.”

Quote 3. ICC Prosecutor

The full text of Bensouda’s statement follows:

Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda concerning the situation in the Republic of the Philippines

“My Office is aware of worrying reported extra-judicial killings of alleged drug dealers and users in the Philippines, which may have led to over 3,000 deaths in the past three months. I am deeply concerned about these alleged killings and the fact that public statements of high officials of the Republic of the Philippines seem to condone such killings and further seem to encourage State forces and civilians alike to continue targeting these individuals with lethal force.

Extra-judicial killings may fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) if they are committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population pursuant to a State policy to commit such an attack.

The Republic of the Philippines is a State Party to the ICC and as such, the Court has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on the territory or by nationals of the Philippines since 1 November 2011, the date when the Statute entered into force in the Philippines.

Let me be clear: any person in the Philippines who incites or engages in acts of mass violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing, in any other manner, to the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC is potentially liable to prosecution before the Court.

My Office, in accordance with its mandate under the Rome Statute, will be closely following developments in the Philippines in the weeks to come and record any instance of incitement or resort to violence with a view to assessing whether a preliminary examination into the situation of the Philippines needs to be opened.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecution of the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Office has been conducting investigations in: Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic (two separate investigations); Kenya; Libya; Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Georgia. The Office is also conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Afghanistan; Burundi; the registered vessels of Comoros, Greece and Cambodia; Colombia; Gabon; Guinea; Iraq/UK; Palestine, Nigeria and Ukraine.

OTPNewsDesk@icc-cpi.int
Source : Office of the Prosecutor

Quote 2. ICC Prosecutor

STATEMENT OF THE RIGHT TO KNOW, RIGHT NOW! COALITION
07 October 2016

On the first 100 days of the Duterte Administration, the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition (R2KRN) cites the issuance of Executive Order No. 2 on the Freedom of Information as a good start, but stresses that so much more has yet to be done to guarantee the full enjoyment of the people’s right to know.

R2KRN sees EO No. 2 (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) as a landmark step, and acknowledges the work being done by various government agencies to prepare their People’s FOI Manual and implementing details. However, R2KRN submits that the lists of proposed exceptions that had been collated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) must be reviewed and narrowed down through executive action and legislation. Further, the crux and lifeblood of a truly responsive FOI – practice by public officials and citizens and a culture of transparency in all government agencies – remain a work in progress under the Duterte Administration.

The Peope’s FOI Manual and Uneven Response from Agencies

Today marks the 77th day since the signing of EO No. 2 on July 23, 2016. That means 43 more days remain before EO No. 2 is fully rolled out on November 19. By then, as per the letter of the EO, all executive agencies shall have prepared their respective People’s FOI Manuals and formulated their respective implementing details.

The member organizations of R2KRN have sought to engage at least five line agencies, two oversight bodies, as well as the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), on these tasks. Thus far, our member organizations have received varying responses. While some agencies have expressed openness to engagement, other agencies have yet to reply. We believe that agencies actively engaging stakeholders in the formulation of their manuals will go a long way in promoting a culture of transparency in those agencies, and will prepare relevant personnel for active interaction with the public on FOI.

Need to Address Confusion on Exceptions

Pursuant to the directive of EO No. 2 for the DOJ and the OSG to prepare an inventory of exceptions, the two agencies submitted separate inventories to the Office of the President. The DOJ’s inventory listed 156 proposed exceptions, and the OSG, 55 proposed exceptions. The unfortunate release of these “draft” inventories by the Presidential Communications Office without proper briefing on their nature and status only served to confuse citizens and could undermine support for EO No. 2. R2KRN has been assured by the lawyers of the Office of the Executive Secretary that the supposed inventory of exceptions to EO No. 2 are for now proposals that will still have to be reviewed and trimmed in consultation with FOI advocates.

What needs to be emphasized is that the inventory must first of all be faithful to exceptions that have clear legal basis under the Constitution and existing laws and jurisprudence. The inventory must neither add nor subtract. Also, the number of proposed exceptions in the DOJ and OSG inventories has proved to be misleading. There are a number of laws that provide confidentiality of specific information, but these generally fall within categories or classes of recognized exceptions. It became all the more confusing that the proposed inventories of the two agencies included draft legislation pending in Congress, as well as judicial notices, even as EO No. 2 covers only the agencies within the executive branch.

R2KRN’s own study led by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and law professors tapped for expert assistance finds that the inventory can be grouped into eleven (11) categories. The nature of these categories of exceptions needs to be understood well by both the government and the public. Evaluating the reasonability of these categories of exceptions should be the focus of scrutiny, rather than the uncategorized number of proposed exceptions in the DOJ and OSG lists, which only serves to frustrate public expectations that EO No. 2 will enable, rather than restrain, the people’s constitutional right to know.

Progress on the Legislative Front

R2KRN notes with guarded hope that there has been progress on the legislative front. The passage of a Freedom of Information law by Congress that will cover all agencies in all the branches of the government, as well as the Constitutional Commissions, remains our unbending, primordial goal. This has been R2KRN’s constant advocacy over the last 15 years, and even EO No. 2 will not soften our resolve to achieve this.

R2KRN has emphasized early on that legislation will be a positive addition to the EO in respect to the following matters: (1) expanding the coverage of FOI standards beyond the executive branch; (2) reviewing the exceptions to limit these to only those that are reasonable and necessary; (3) introducing criminal liability where appropriate; and (4) affording further institutionalization of transparency and accountability in all public agencies, by strength of law.

At the Senate, the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media chaired by Senator Grace Poe has already conducted public hearings on FOI bills last September 19 and 29. At the House of Representatives, the House Committee on Public Information has conducted a public briefing on its work last Sept. 13 and scheduled its first committee hearing on October 11.

In recent Congresses, the Senate has delivered early on the FOI in contrast to extended deliberations at the House of Representatives. In the 15th and 16th Congress, the major missing link to the FOI’s passage had been the absence of clear, firm endorsement by then President Benigno S. Aquino III and the leaders of the House of Representatives. With President Duterte’s commitment to FOI signaled by EO No. 2, R2KRN harbors hope once more that his “super majority” coalition in both chambers of Congress will now be more responsive to the people’s clamor for the swift passage of the FOI law.

Big Balance of Work Ahead

R2KRN reiterates its support for EO No.2 as a measure that clarifies procedural and substantive issues that hamper the people’s right to access information with clear public interest, in the custody of public agencies.

At the same time, R2KRN emphasizes that EO No. 2 is just a first step, a challenge even for both public officials and citizens to embrace the big balance of work ahead.

Aside from executive agencies providing the implementing details for EO No. 2, there is the task of making the People’s FOI Manual people-friendly.

Two, pending the passage of the FOI law, R2KRN hopes that local government units and Constitutional Commissions will promptly launch parallel efforts to adopt similar administrative procedures to promote transparency and access to information in their respective offices.

Three, on the matter of exceptions, R2KRN wishes to promote its study on exceptions to asisst the Office of the Executive Secretary and other executive agencies in finalizing the inventory of exceptions under EO No. 2.

Four, R2KRN commits full and unqualified support for the review of the outdated information classification guidelines embodied in Memorandum Circular No. 78 that has been cited in the repealing clause of EO No. 2.

Finally, R2KRN pledges to endeavor to nurture a vibrant community of advocates, civil society organizations, and professional associations actively engaged in FOI practice, precisely to test, push, and promote transparency, accountability, and good governance that EO No. 2, and hopefully, a good FOI law, could and should offer all our citizens.

 

THE RIGHT TO KNOW, RIGHT KNOW! COALITION
07 October 2016

References

Atty. Eirene Jhone E. Aguila, Co-convenor
0919 999 4578, eirenejhoneaguila@gmail.com

Ms. Malou Mangahas
02 433 0331, mcmangahas@pcij.org

Ms. Jenina Joy Chavez
0918 902 6716, chavezjoy@gmail.com