Media groups laud EO on FOI | Inquirer News

Media groups laud EO on FOI

/ 03:52 AM August 05, 2016
PRESIDENT Duterte signing the EO on freedom of information MALACAÑANG PHOTO

PRESIDENT Duterte signing the EO on freedom of information MALACAÑANG PHOTO

OZAMIZ CITY—Media groups in Southeast Asia welcomed President Duterte’s order to institute a freedom of information (FOI) mechanism in the executive branch, saying it “measures up” to generally acceptable standards and principles on public transparency.

“Despite some reservations, the FOI executive order is a welcome development in the region where the culture of secrecy and corruption has been the norm,” said Edgardo Legaspi, executive director of the Bangkok-based Southeast Asian Press Alliance (Seapa).

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In a statement, Seapa said “information is necessary for people to participate in decision-making” as it noted a “growing demand” for openness and good governance in Southeast Asia. Mr. Duterte’s order “pushes forward the regional landscape toward greater transparency and accountability,” Legaspi said.

The media alliance is composed of 11 organizations from seven countries in Southeast Asia. Its founding members are the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.

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On July 23, Mr. Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) No. 2, titled “Operationalizing the People’s Constitutional Right to Information,” fulfilling an earlier promise to go ahead with an FOI mechanism even before Congress enacts the law for it. The order does not cover other branches of government.

Seapa said the EO was founded on a “legal presumption in favor of access to information, public records and official records” and “recognizes the rights enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution.”

It “acknowledges the government’s existing obligation to make key information accessible.”

“After the FOI bill languished in the legislative mill for 29 years, Congress should take a cue from the President,” Seapa said.

In a separate statement, the Right to Know Right Now! Coalition (R2KRN) described the issuance of the EO as a “major progressive leap on transparency.”

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TAGS: Freedom of Information, News, Regions, Southeast Asian Press Alliance
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