Representing themselves

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On July 23, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 2 mandating public access to information held by the agencies and offices of the executive branch. The non-governmental organizations that have been campaigning for a freedom of information (FOI) act for decades welcomed it with cautious optimism. The EO encouraged the legislature and judiciary to do the same, but the FOI advocates nevertheless pointed out the need for a law that would cover all three branches of government.

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Information denied

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ANY JOURNALIST in this country with some experience, and who has had to look for documentary sources from government when writing a news report, analysis or commentary, knows one thing: secrecy is not one of the bureaucracy’s strong suits.

It is possible, though not always easy, to get copies of the documents one needs, such as the Statements of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of government officials. In addition, there’s always someone in a government office eager to show how much he or she is in the know by providing reporters “inside information.” Of course journalists have to be wary of attempts to mislead them, thus the need, demanded by best practice anyway, to consult other sources for confirmation.

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