President Rodrigo Duterte had three major promises related to media on his first State of the Nation Address (SONA): the implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) order, the creation of the People’s Broadcasting Corporation and the creation of a Task Force on Media Killings.
On the FOI implementation
|PROMISE: “The PCO shall coordinate with the Office of the Executive Secretary and the Presidential Legal Counsel in implementing the recently approved EO on the Freedom of Information. This Executive Order is out. As an example, on the part of our Executive Branch to make transparency and integrity as yardsticks in government performance, savings and expenses while engaging the public to a vigilant and to participate in government programs and projects.”|
But under criticism.
Two days before his first SONA, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 2 on Freedom of Information, giving the public access to information, public records and transactions of government offices under the Executive branch. It was not what FOI advocates had envisioned as it was limited in its application.
In its midyear report on the FOI, the Presidential Communications Operations Office, the lead agency tasked to implement it, said that all 22 branches of the government and 129 government agencies have submitted their People’s FOI Manuals and implementing details.
The government has also put up eFOI, the online FOI platform where citizens can file their requests for information. It is currently limited to 126 agencies.
While initially hailed, the FOI earned criticism when the government released a list of 166 exceptions to the EO, including the release of government officials’ statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN). The government later trimmed it down to nine:
1. Information covered by executive privilege
2. Privileged information relating to national security, defense, or international relations
3. Information concerning law enforcement and protection of public and personal safety
4. Information deemed confidential for the protection of the privacy and certain individuals such as minors, victims of crimes or the accused
5. Information, documents, or records known by reason of official capacity and are deemed as confidential, including those submitted or disclosed by entities to government agencies, tribunals and boards or officers, in relation to the performance of their functions or to inquires or investigation conducted by them in the exercise of their administrative, regulatory or quasi-judicial powers.
6. Prejudicial, premature disclosure
7. Records of proceedings or information from proceedings which pursuant to law or relevant rules and regulations are treated as confidential or privileged
8. Matters considered confidential under banking and finance laws and their amendatory laws, and;
9. Other exceptions to the right to information under laws, jurisprudence, and rules and regulations.
On the creation of the People’s Broadcasting Corporation
|PROMISE: “To better manage public information, a law should be passed, I’m addressing to Congress, to create the People’s Broadcasting Corporation, replacing PTV-4, the government-run TV station, which now aims to replicate international government broadcasting networks.”|
On BBC training people from government-run channels
|PROMISE: “Teams from these international news agencies – I’d like to mention that, those interested, BBC – are set to visit the country soon to train people from the government-run channels to observe – ito ang gusto ko, tutal pera naman ng tao – to observe editorial independence through innovative programs and intelligent treatment and analysis of news reports, as well as developments of national and international significance.”|
BBC training for Radyo Pilipinas is scheduled on September 3, 2017, while a team from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) will also visit this year to identify areas for training, according to Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
On upgrading Radyo ng Bayan
|PROMISE: “The government’s Bureau of Broadcast Services, better known as the Radyo ng Bayan, shall also undergo upgrading to make it financially viable and dependable for accurate, independent, and enlightening news and commentary. Radyo ng Bayan will be integrated with the PBC.”|
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the Bureau of Broadcast Services is currently being upgraded.
The Chinese government donated USD1.4 million to fund the upgrade of Radyo ng Bayan. It was launched in June 1 as Radyo Pilipinas.
The Philippines signed a Memorandum of Understanding on media exchange and cooperation with China. Under the agreement, China would provide trainings to personnel of media agencies under the Presidential Communications Operations Office like Radyo ng Bayan, PTV4 and the Philippine News Agency.
On setting up broadcast hubs in the Visayas and Mindanao.
|PROMISE: “The PBC will also set up broadcast hubs in the Visayas and Mindanao.”|
This is included in the bills creating the PBC — House Bill 2143 and Senate Bill 913 — which are pending in their respective committees.
On the first Muslim and first Lumad channel
|PROMISE: “Davao City will also be the first site of the first Muslim channel to be called Salaam Television and the first Lumad channel.”|
The first Muslim channel in Davao City is set for formal launch on July 23, on the eve of Duterte’s second SONA, while the Lumad channel will air in the last quarter of 2017.
On the creation of a task force on media killings
|PROMISE: “The PCO (Presidential Communications Office), in coordination with the Executive Secretary, is drafting the Administrative Order on the Task Force on media killings.”|
The Duterte administration fulfilled this promise on October 11, 2016 when the president signed Administrative Order No. 1 creating the Presidential Task Force against Media Killings. It was later renamed Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), with former Manila Times journalist Joel Sy Egco as its executive director.
The first six months of the PTFoMS saw the handling of at least 24 cases concerning the working media. It has started filing cases, which has led to the arrest of suspects in the killings, according to information from the PCO.
Find out how Duterte fared in other sectors here.