The Philippine Information Agency (PIA) recently conducted an Ugnayan: Dialogue for Progress forum at Silliman University, Dumaguete City to deepen the public’s appreciation on the Philippines’ hosting of ASEAN and to raise their awareness on the thrusts of the government. The activity was attended by representatives of different sectors in Dumaguete City and Negros Oriental. Watch the highlights of the event in this video prepared by PIA- 7:
By Roi Lomotan
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.
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)
By Jennifer Catan-Tilos
Opportunities and benefits of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were discussed recently during the second leg of the Philippine Information Agency’s “Ugnayan: A Dialogue for Progress” in Dumaguete City.
PIA Director General Harold Clavite said the opening of employment prospects in neighboring countries and visa-free travel are some of the advantages that the ASEAN brings for its citizens.
Clavite stressed that the objective of organizing the ASEAN community and with economic cooperation and regional integration is to improve the lives of its people.
The Ugnayan or ASEAN multi-sectoral forum intends to gather support to the Philippines’ chairmanship of the 50th ASEAN summit this year.
For her part, as one of the speakers of Staff Director Belina Capul of PIA explained that some 117 meetings that would take place in the different cities and provinces in the country where leaders, foreign ministers, and representatives of the ASEAN’s Technical Working Groups will talk on how to better improve the regional cooperation.
Capul said this year’s ASEAN will celebrate its 50th anniversary with the theme: “Partnering for change, Engaging the world” with Philippines holding the Chairmanship in accordance with the regular rotation among member states.
The ASEAN 10-member states include Brunei Darrusalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam.
Clavite said the ASEAN region is one of the most promising when it comes to economy.
“Right now, we are the seventh largest economy i-combine ang GDP sa ASEAN ika- pito sa tibuok kalibutan and by 2050 gi project na siya nga ika-upat nga pinakadako nga ekonomiya sa tibuok kalibutan surpassing many other countries in the world,” Clavite said.
Capul also discussed about the positive impact of the ASEAN and how it will open up opportunities of economic, political, cultural, and security cooperation among its ten members.
Other issues discussed include benefits and challenges of the Freedom of Information and National Economic and Development Authority’s (NEDA) Ambisyon Natin 2040 that highlights the Philippine government’s long-term mission and vision for the Filipino people and the country in the next 25 years.
The event is participated in by more than 120 sector representatives in the province which include local and national government unit officials, information officers, non-governmental organizations, members of the local media, and students.
In closing, Clavite also emphasized the need for community influencers and other communication networks to raise public awareness on how each Filipino can participate in and benefit from the programs and services of the government.
“While Filipinos are the biggest social media users, we have to be reminded ourselves to be responsible on the information we disseminated so as not to create irrelevant news or fake news but take the opportunity to empower the people,” he said.
The forum was graced by Dumaguete City mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo; Officer in Charge-Regional Director Fayette Riñen of PIA7; Regional Director of NEDA7 Efren B. Carreon; Staff Director of PIA Belina SB. Capul; Presidential Communications Operations Office representative Michelle Arianne M. Manza; Silliman University president Ben S. Malayang III; and Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Edward Du. (jct/PIA7-Negros Oriental with reports from Angelica Mae D. Gomez)