Press Briefing of Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar
The Royal Mandaya Hotel, Davao City
24 July 2016


SEC. ANDANAR: By Malou Manghas, to the KBP, the NUJP, and the others who I will not mention anymore, to the champions of good governance who lived to see this day and to every Filipino soul who have fought tooth and nail for the last 29 years to strengthen the right to information as inscribed in our 1987 Constitution.

That, at 7 p.m. on July 23, 2016 in Davao City, on the 25th day of office as President of the Philippines, President Rody Duterte signed the cornerstone Executive Order called the Freedom of Information.

And let me read this:

Operationalizing in the Executive branch the people’s Constitutional right to information and the state policies of full public disclosure and transparency in the public service and providing guidelines therefor.

Section 1. For the purpose of this Executive Order, the following terms shall mean:

a. Information shall mean any records, documents, papers, reports, letters, contracts, minutes, and transcripts of official meetings, maps, books, photographs, data, research materials, films, sound and video recording, magnetic or other tapes, electronic data, computer stored data, or other like or similar data or materials recorded, stored or archived in whatever format.

Section 2. Coverage. This order shall cover all government offices under the Executive Branch including but not limited to the national government and all its offices, departments, bureaus, offices, and instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations, and state universities and colleges. Local government units are encouraged to observe and be guided by this Order.

Section 3. The Access to Information. Every Filipino shall have access to information, official records, public records, and documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for public-development.

Section 4. Exception. Access to information shall be denied when the information falls under any of the exceptions enshrined in the Constitution, existing law or jurisprudence.

The Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General are hereby directed to prepare an inventory of such exceptions and submit the same to the Office of the President within 30 calendar days from the date of effectivity of this Order.

Section 5. The availability of the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth or SALN. Subject to the provisions contained in Section 3 and 4 of this Order, all public officials are reminded of their obligation to file and make available for scrutiny their Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth in accordance with existing laws, rules and regulations, and the spirit and letter of this Order.

Section 6. Application and Interpretation. There shall be a legal presumption in favor of access to information, public records and official records. No request for information shall be denied unless it clearly falls under any of the exceptions listed in the inventory or updated inventory of exceptions circularized by the Office of the President as provided in the preceding section.

The determination of the applicability of any of the exceptions to the request shall be the responsibility of the Head of Office which is in custody or control of the information, public record or official record, or of the responsible central or field officer duly designated by him in writing.

Section 7. Protection of Privacy. While providing access to information, public records, and official records, responsible officials shall afford full protection to the right to privacy of the individual.

Section 9. Procedure. Any person who requests access to information shall submit to a written request to the government office concerned. The request shall state the name and contact information of the requesting party, provide valid proof of his identification or authorization, reasonably describe the information requested, and the reason for, or purpose of, the request for information, and so on and so forth.

Signed, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Thank you.


[signal problem]

Q: Would there be penalties for those who would—? [signal problem]

SEC. ANDANAR: … it shall be forwarded to the Solicitor General or DoJ Secretary for interpretation [signal problem] the information was decided that it should be given and it does not violate any law, then the information should be given. And if the duly assigned officer whose job is to release the information still does not release it [signal problem] should face administrative cases or case.

Q: Thank you, sir.

Q: Good morning, sir.

SEC. ANDANAR: How are you?

Q: I’m fine, sir. Thank you. Sir, is there any plan for the President to ask our Congress to also, to pass as a law the FOI?

SEC. ANDANAR: [signal problem] independent branches of government namely the Executive, Judiciary, and the Legislative.

Q: Sir, any sanctions for Departments if they refuse to–

SEC. ANDANAR: to give information?

Q: To give in — yeah — to the request of the persons or the media.

SEC. ANDANAR: There will be penalties. There shall be administrative cases, applicable to the head of agency. [signal problem]

Q: Sir, good morning po. I’m just curious about the timing of the signing of the EO. Did he really mean to have it… an EO before his first SONA or was this expected? And how’s the reception of the President while reading the entire EO?

SEC. ANDANAR: Thank you for that question. I would like everyone to know and as most of you are already informed, that are privy to the push and pull of this policy that on the first day of President Rody Duterte in office, on June 30, we already push for the Executive Order of the Freedom of Information.

There were substantive pushing and pulling, additions to this Executive Order for more transparent Executive branch of government and there is no plan of timing of signing it yesterday. It just so happened that the Executive Order was finalized Saturday night when the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Panelo, Executive Secretary Medialdea, Undersecretary Boy Quitain had finally agreed to this final draft and now I’m holding the final Executive Order of the Freedom of Information. So talagang, I guess, I surmise that the public will understand that after 29 years of fighting to strengthen this Freedom of Information, and to strengthen the right to information and if my memory serves me right, it was the late Congressman Raul Roco who first submitted a bill to strengthen the right to information, the Constitution.

After 29 years and only 25 days as President, Rody Duterte, this is already a record-breaking speed of cornerstone or milestone or a landmark Executive Order being signed.

Q: Good morning po. Sir, in every rule sabi nga, there’s always an exemption. I’d like to find out if there are agencies, government agencies that are exempted?

SEC. ANDANAR: Magandang tanong ‘yan. Mula sa RGMA ‘no? RGMA? ‘Yung mga exceptions dito, medyo mahaba-haba kasi itong… Okay. Only a few. You want me to read the exception of an entire section? I’ll read it:

Section 4. Access to information shall be denied when the information falls under any of the exceptions enshrined in the Constitution, existing law or jurisprudence.

The Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General are hereby directed to prepare an inventory of such exceptions and submit the same to the Office of the President within 30 calendar days from the date of effectivity of this Order.

The Office of the President shall thereafter, immediately circularize the inventory of exceptions for the guidance of all government offices and instrumentalities covered by this Order and the general public.

Said inventory of exceptions shall periodically be updated to properly reflect any change in existing law and jurisprudence and the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General are directed to update the inventory of exceptions as the need to do arises, for circularization as hereinabove stated.

Q: No specific agencies yet, sir?

SEC. ANDANAR: The top of my mind, any information that puts our government in danger in terms of national security.

Q: Sir Martin, good morning. Sir Martin, personally, how do you think about whistleblowers and leakers?

SEC. ANDANAR: It’s not… Well, there’s a Whistleblowers Act. So, I would rather stick to the Freedom of Information.

Q: Sir, magkakaroon ba ng parang oversight committee or body to parang regulate, to do the regulation on the FOI?

SEC. ANDANAR: Salamat po. Gaya po ng nabanggit natin kanina, doon po sa ating Section 4 sa exceptions, ‘yung oversight body po na ‘yun ay ‘yung Department of Justice at ‘yung Office of the Solicitor General.

Q: Anong number ng EO?

SEC. ANDANAR: The Executive Order has just been signed. Understandably, the stamps and the records are in Malacañang. So by Monday, we will release the signed document with the seal of the President, with the stamp of the President and shall be delivered officially to the people of the Philippines. So abangan na lang po natin.

Q: Your thoughts on the EO signed by a President who hasn’t faced media since June 2?

SEC. ANDANAR: I’m sorry?

Q: Yes. The EO signed by a President who hasn’t face media. Like —

SEC. ANDANAR: I don’t think it’s got nothing… I don’t think it has something to do with the Freedom of Information. I think we’re talking about documents.

Q: Secretary, it may seem (inaudible) the President signed ‘yun nga pong FOI ano, he continues to refuse to give access to media interviews and press con, which in the past, serve as one of the Filipino people’s fundamental means to get information from the Office of the President and challenge him for public questions directly. When will the President change his personal policy of media access po?

SEC. ANDANAR: The President has over 30 Cabinet members. He has a working Executive department and he has alter egos to answer for the questions that the media has for the President. And, I still believe to this day, the last time I checked, that it’s still the prerogative of the President if he wants to be interviewed or not.

Q: Secretary, since may FOI na, magbabago na ba ‘yung stance niya, na nabanggit ba niya sa inyo kagabi?

SEC. ANDANAR: The most important fact here is the Freedom of Information, not only limited to the media but the Freedom of Information that is inclusive to the rest of the 100 million Filipinos who would want to extract and know vital information (inaudible) in the government.

Q: Yes, sir about the SONA, the details about the SONA.

SEC. ANDANAR: Well, I’d like to tell you the story that yesterday was a very productive day for the President as usual. But the hours that RTVM and the people around the President spent last night in reviewing the speech of the President and the President found it very enjoyable and the President after more than 10 revisions na siguro boss ‘no? Ang dami ‘no? Ang dami. So this is what I can say: The address of the President, personally written by the President, will be a very powerful speech that will awaken the patriot in every Filipino.

When I read the speech, ayoko pong mag—exaggerate, pero the first time I read the speech, it made me cry. Ganon po ka— ganon po kaganda, ganon po makabag-damdamin ‘yung speech po ng Pangulo po natin, as my colleague from the RTVM here would agree.

The speech would probably last, I supposed, I guess, intelligently it was 38 minutes, as based on our application that we used online to calculate our actual ‘no, actual ‘yung sayo ‘di ba? ‘Yung tinime (time) mo. About 38 minutes. And if you would, if you would include the applause and some ad-libs by the President, it will take longer.

Q: Sir, there’s a report of the involvement ng mga barangay officials. Are you not going to compel all the barangay officials to do a parang drug test?

SEC. ANDANAR: That’s, that’s the job of the local government units and that is the job of the Secretary of the DILG and having their own Local Government Code, that they should have their own policies toward this.

Q: Sir, are there any plans on that, sir?

SEC. ANDANAR: You will have to ask the Secretary of the DILG.
Q: Sir, again. Sir, maraming nagtatanong magmi-meeting ba si President Duterte and si former President Gloria Arroyo. ‘Yung sinasabi kahapon ni Secretary Jess Dureza, magkakaroon ng NSC meeting. Kasama doon ang mga former presidents. Invited din po ba doon si RGMA?

SEC. ANDANAR: I’m not privy to that statement of Secretary Jess Dureza, but what I am certain is that after the meeting yesterday for the National Security Council or cluster with General or Secretary Jun Esperon, Secretary Jess Dureza, the former President Fidel V. Ramos and President Rody Duterte. All the media was there. That meeting was so productive and that meeting led to a very important addition to the State of the Nation Address speech for the President that will be delivered tomorrow.

Q: And that is ‘yung pag-accept ni FVR sa post niya as special envoy?

SEC. ANDANAR: More than that. Bukas po abangan.

Thank you [Teng?]. And, anyone who wish to have a copy of the signed Freedom of Information Executive Order, sabihin ko lang po sa inyo that this is signed. The stamps and the sealed would be, would be available tomorrow in Malacañang. So ito lang po ‘yung signed sa ngayon. Kung gusto niyo po ng kopya nito, ibibigay ko po kay [Teng?] at si [Teng?] na po ang bahala sa inyo. Thank you.

Source: PND (Presidential News Desk)