TACLOBAN CITY- The signing of the Freedom on Information (FOI) by President Rodrigo Duterte was hailed by two mayors in Leyte who have experienced their share of criticisms both from the public and the media. Both Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Gonzales Romualdez and Palo Mayor Remedios “Matin” Petilla hailed the President for issuing an executive order giving flesh on the FOI. “I think it’s the right of the people to get information. Here in the City Hall, we are not hiding anything. We are open,” Romualdez said. The Tacloban city mayor said that her administration, to include that of her husband, Alfred Romualdez, has been practicing and observing transparency.
“We have been implementing it,” she said, referring to the policy of transparency. For her part, Mayor Petilla said that her administration is also open to the public, to include the media, for them to access information that they want. “We have been open,” she said. However, Petilla was quick to say that while she is supportive on providing the media and the public in general, open access to information, there should still be some limitations. “Not all information being sought by the media should be given. I think there should be some limitations for the media…” the town mayor said during a press conference on Monday (July 25).
She, however, did not elaborate on where limitation on freedom of information should apply.
Petilla also said that she is still waiting for more guidelines on the executive order issued by the President on FOI. The Palo town mayor, who also served as governor and a congresswoman, stressed that she is supportive on Mr. Duterte’s campaign to make public officials open to the public and to the media. Both Romualdez, serving on her first term after completing her nine years in office as a councilor, and Petilla have been subjected to media criticisms related to their duties as public servants. On July 24, Pres. Duterte signed an executive order on FOI. Under the executive order, all Filipinos shall be given access to information, records and documents to official government transactions, to include research data. Meantime, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) also welcomes the signing of the executive order on FOI.
In a statement, the NUJP only shows the President’s sincerity in making good of his campaign promise. “This is a gesture we are sure not only media but everybody who believes transparency and accountability indispensable to good governance and democracy highly appreciates,” the media group said. It also called on every Filipino “to be vigilant that whatever gains are made are protected and should continue to expand the borders of press freedom in the country.”