Public servants must serve with empathy, efficiency – DOJ

By Roi Lomotan

 

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DOJ Usec. Markk Perete addresses Dumaguete City officials, employees of the city government, and students from selected schools in the city in a public forum held on Sept. 13, 2018 at the Dumaguete City Session Hall. Usec. Perete represented DOJ Sec. Menardo Guevarra who was originally invited to speak during the event which is part of the series of activities the City Hall organized in celebration of Civil Service Month

Public servants are reminded to serve the public with highest empathy and efficiency.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Markk Perete told city officials and employees of the city government that times have changed and taxpayers are constantly demanding “value for money” service from public servants.

“As such, it is not only empathy bu

t likewise efficiency that is demanded of each of us. Empathy and efficiency: these are but two sides of the same coin,” Usec. Perete underscored to his audience.

“If we are able to appreciate the gravity of our responsibility, the weight that our action or inaction bears on the lives of those who depend on us, and the cost of delay in the delivery of basic and important public services, then we begin to understand that all these demands from seemingly impatient people arise from years of want and neglect,” he added.

Usec. Perete emphasized that the people should not wait long for their needs to be addressed.

“It is now our business as public servants to make sure that the needs of our people are fulfilled at a day no later than today; to make them wait much longer is a dereliction of our duty to the Divine, to our countrymen, and to the nation we pledged to serve,” Usec. Perete emphasized.

The DOJ undersecretary addressed city offi

cials and employees of the city hall as well as also students from selected schools in the city in a public forum held on Sept. 13 at the City Session Hall.

Perete represented DOJ Sec. Menardo Guevarra who was originally invited to speak for the event organized by the city government in observance of Civil Service Month.

Usec. Perete relayed to them the message of

the DOJ secretary. He urged civil servants to dispel thoughts that there is less stress when working in government sector compared to private companies.

The official pointed out that complacency spell doom not only upon civil servants but to the government agency they represent as well.

The DOJ official also cited that right now civil servants are placed under the watchful eye of the public and social media has become a powerful tool in exacting public accountability and transparency.

Usec. Perete disclosed that nowadays, a governm

ent official or worker who fails to satisfy the ever-demanding expectation of the public can get bashed online.

With this, those who work in government are pressed to work faster, and at a level of greater efficiency and competence than ever before.

However, Usec. Perete noted that these factors should push public servants to exert more effort to achieve higher levels of competence and efficiency.

“We must therefore likewise demand more of our selves to meet the higher expectations of the public we serve,” Usec. Perete concluded.

After he delivered the secretary’s message, Usec. Perete also entertained questions from the participants which pertain to some issues related to DOJ.

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Newsfeature: FOI to benefit Filipino families – PCOO

By Roi Lomotan

 

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PCOO Officer Michelle Arianne Manza

DUMAGUETE CITY (PIA) — The Freedom of Information (FOI) is not only intended for members of the media, but Filipino families can also benefit from it.

Michelle Arianne Manza of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) said Filipino families can utilize FOI for various reasons.

“The question thrown to us before was what is FOI? Is this something we can eat? Well of course you can. You can eat it in a way because information is something you can consume. It gives you the right tools for you to decide especially on important information,” Manza said.

Manza also added that FOI has been known to be used when deciding on regular problems. “Where can we relocate our families? What school will I choose for my kids? Which school provides quality education for my children? These are some of the information we can get from the government.”

President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 2 mandating all offices under the Executive Branch of the government to implement Freedom of Information was one of the main topics discussed in the recently held Ugnayan Dialogue for Progress event in Dumaguete City.

 

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PCOO Officer Michelle Arianne Manza

Manza tackled the process of obtaining information from government offices under the Executive Branch.

However, she mentioned that agencies under the Legislative and Judiciary are not covered by the FOI.

Still, through FOI, the public can have access to records, statistics, archives and documents from different government agencies.

“When PCOO was mandated to implement the FOI program we drafted the agency People’s FOI manual and the agency FOI manual. The agency FOI Manual is for agencies. It serves as guide for implementing the FOI. On the other hand the People’s FOI Manual is for every Juan Dela Cruz. What if they have an inquiry to DENR? They will follow the (people’s) FOI Manual,” Manza said.

For those who want to make an FOI request, a set of procedures must be followed:

1. Applicant must fill out the FOI request form. The form can be downloaded at www.foi.gov.ph. The form asks for the name, address, contact details, and the preferred mode of communication of the requesting person. It also asks how the requesting party would like receive the information (e-mail, personal appearance to the agency, snail mail). Manza noted that requesting persons must bring along a valid identification when submitting their FOI request to the concerned government agency. She also added that a valid ID is important especially in dealing with sensitive personal information.

2. The requesting party will submit the FOI request to the receiving officer of the concerned government agency.

3. The receiving officer will forward the request to the internal decision maker of the agency. The decision maker will determine if the information which the requesting party wants to obtain is very sensitive to be released. In that case, the agency can deny the release of the said information.

Manza noted that information cannot be disclosed if it is covered by Executive Privilege, related to national security, defense or international relations, law enforcement and protection of public and personal safety, confidential Information for the protection of privacy of persons, confidential Information by reason of official capacity, prejudicial premature disclosures, records of proceedings, confidential information under banking and finance laws, and other exceptions under laws, jurisprudence, and implementing rules and regulations.

4. Once the decision maker approves the release of information, it will be returned to the receiving officer and the receiving officer will deliver the information to the requesting party. Government offices have 15 days maximum to respond to a FOI request.

If in case the requesting party was not satisfied on how the agency handled the FOI request, that person can apply for an appeal.

On the other hand, requesting parties can also apply for an FOI request online.

Individuals must log in to www.foi.gov.ph or the eFOI portal and they can browse information they need from government agencies.

As of now, there are 65 national government agencies and government owned and controlled corporations linked with eFOI portal.

Manza said the government is moving towards pro-active disclosure and it continues to enhance mechanisms that would make as much government documents public and to reduce the burden on public administration of having to process requests for information.

“Ang ibig sabihin noon (pro-active disclosure) ay bago pa hingin na ang impormasyon ay ilalabas na natin. Saa paanong paraan? Sa media, sa social media, sa website ng agency at sa iba’t ibang portals na pwedeng pagkuhanan ng impormasyon. Ang pinaka-prinsipiyo talaga niyan ay ilabas na bago pa hingin ng mamamayan. (What we mean there is that we have already released the information before an individual would ask for it. It can be through media, social media, websites of different agencies and web portals where people can visit to obtain information),” she said.

Aside from the eFOI portal, data.gov.ph is also a website where the public can access government information.

“In a nutshell, the FOI program is composed of open data which is proactive disclosure and the FOI, which involves engagement with people. Open data releases (information) from government agencies while FOI asks the public: Ano ang kailangan mo sa gobyerno? Anong impormasyon iyong importante sa iyo?” Manza elaborated.

Through these mechanisms, Manza hopes that people will be able to consume and utilize the information they can get from government to improve their lives as she emphasized.

“We all have equal rights when it comes to getting information from the government.” (ral/PIA7-Negros Oriental)

Dumaguete to ask motorists to pay traffic fines before getting mayor’s permit

By Jennifer Catan-Tilos

DUMAGUETE CITY (PIA) —  Dumaguete City is set to pass an ordinance seeking to address the seeming unequal enforceability of traffic rules for public and private vehicles.

If passed, all motorists with pending traffic violations will no longer be granted a mayor’s permit, franchise, tax clearance and other permits from the City of Dumaguete unless they shall have paid the accessory fines and penalties.

It was observed that virtually 100 percent of owners of public utility vehicles have paid their administrative fines but just less than 50% of the owners of private vehicles do so.

City Councilor Alan Cordova, author of the proposed ordiance, explained that this is due to the fact that the LGU has greater regulatory power over the vehicles used for public utility and considerably less over private carriers.

Specifically to address the inequality, Cordova proposed an ordinance that would make it a requirement for the payment of traffic violations fines and penalties before a regulatory permit or franchise shall be issued by the city government of Dumaguete.

Under the proposed measure, applicants for original or renewal of permits and franchises must first secure a clearance from the Traffic Management Office to indicate that they have no traffic violation fine or penalty still unpaid to the city government.

The clearance shall be free of charge.

This latest proposal is part of the comprehensive scheme of enhancing the enforcement of traffic rules to ease the gridlock in major streets, especially that a substantial number of violators are owners of private vehicles who are less inclined to pay the penalties and fines.

The proposal will be subject to plenary debates on second reading and after a public hearing shall have been called. (rmn/jct/PIA7-Negros Oriental/This article was first published at PIA Website on Jan. 10, 2017)