15 June 2017

From Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella – On the media covering the situation in Marawi
We call on the media courageously covering the situation in Marawi to remain true to your profession in delivering timely, accurate and relevant news to our people. After all, part of any journalist’s sacred calling is to bear witness to the truth.

While I understand that you would not shirk your duty in the pursuit of any story, bear in mind that there’s no story more valuable than one’s life. Take the necessary precautions and stay safe while covering conflicts.

Gov’t assures swift action to aid IDPs from Marawi
The government on Thursday, June 15, assured its swift response in addressing the needs of Filipinos displaced from their homes following the terrorist attacks by the Maute group in Marawi City.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director and Office of Civil Defense (OCD) chief Ricardo Jalad confirmed that as of June 14, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Lanao del Sur has reached 324,406 or 66,738 families.

Five percent of these IDPs are staying inside 79 evacuation centers in Lanao Del Norte, Lanao Del Sur, and Cagayan De Oro. The remaining 95 percent sought refuge with relatives and friends.

Jalad said his office has already directed the activation of a command and coordinating center in Iligan City to fast track the government’s efforts in responding to the immediate needs of the displaced families.

To date, a total of P84 million worth of assistance has already been provided by government agencies responding to the conflict, including the OCD. If the number of IDPs increase in the coming days, the government is set to put up tent cities to accommodate more evacuees, he said.

When asked about the government’s rehabilitation plan for Marawi City, Jalad stressed that their primary focus at the moment is to ensure the immediate delivery of services to Filipinos staying in the evacuation centers as well as to the home-based IDPs.

Nevertheless, the NDRRMC Chief guaranteed that the OCD will be deeply involved in the crafting of the rehabilitation plan once the entire city is cleared of the militant group.

“We are still in the response phase… But still the OCD as the overall coordinator will be involved in the crafting of the rehabilitation plan, initially through the conduct of post-conflict needs assessment,” Jalad said.

“Hopefully, as soon as Marawi is cleared, we can embark on the conduct of the assessment. And after the assessment will be the drafting of the rehabilitation and recovery plan,” he added.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella earlier confirmed that an Executive Order for the implementation of a rehabilitation program for Marawi City is already awaiting the President’s signature.

The Executive Order for “Bangon Marawi” seeks to allot a P10-billion budget for the restoration of the conflict-torn city. Jalad for his part stressed that funds from the NDRRMC could be tapped for the said program.

Palace condoles with families of London fire victims

Meanwhile, in the same briefing, Malacañang extended its condolences to the families of those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire in London, adding the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is monitoring the situation and is ready to provide assistance to Filipinos affected by the disaster.

“We condole with those who have lost families and friends in the Grenfell fire and we take special note of the special needs of Filipinos who also were affected by the conflagration,” Abella said.

Abella said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), through the Philippine Embassy in London, has confirmed that some Filipinos were among those injured by the fire at Grenfell Tower.

“The Embassy is closely monitoring the situation and is ready to provide assistance to all Filipino fire victims,” he added.

Also during the same press briefing, Abella said that medical students in the country’s eight State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) are set to get free tuition.

The Commission on Higher Education has announced that the Doctor of Medicine students in eight SUCs — University of Northern Philippines, Mariano Marcos State University, Cagayan State University, Bicol University, West Visayas State University, University of the Philippines-Leyte, Mindanao State University and University of the Philippines-Manila — can now avail of full tuition subsidy through the Cash Grants to Medical Students.

The financial assistance is intended for new and continuing Filipino medical students who will be enrolling in the Academic Year 2017-2018.

Also, Abella said Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) increased by 30.6 percent in March 2017, hitting $1.6 billion in the first quarter of 2017, he said.

“Foreign direct investment inflows reflect investors’ confidence in the country’s economy on account of the continued growth prospects and strong macroeconomic fundamentals,” Abella said.###PND

First FOI Conference Held

The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) on Thursday, June 15, brought together Freedom of Information (FOI) decision-makers and receiving officers of various government agencies for the first FOI conference held in Quezon City.

Co-organized with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the conference was dubbed “#FOIKnowMore: Moving Towards Enhanced Standard of Transparency.”  It provided stakeholders a commonplace to discuss the FOI’s first six months of implementation, talk about international best practices, and facilitate feedback on the program.

PCOO’s FOI Program has under its umbrella the FOI Manuals of the 22 departments, 131 national government agencies, 39 GOCCs (Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations), and four SUCs (State Universities and Colleges).  These agencies have complied with the Executive Order (EO) through having their Agency Manual and People’s Manual submitted to the PCOO, the office in-charge with the implementation of the EO, as mandated by Memorandum Order No. 10.
By 2018, the PCOO envisions that all government agencies, encompassing all branches, have submitted their FOI manuals and are already on board the eFOI portal for the complete access of the public.
To date, 82 percent of those agencies who submitted their FOI Manuals adopted the PCOO’s model manual.  From 15 pilot agencies in November 2016, there are now 108 national government agencies onboard eFOI.
Meanwhile, most agencies adopted a single-layer process flow, where agencies designate a receiving officer to receive FOI requests who will in turn submit the request to the decision maker, which is in contrast to a multi-layer process flow that requires several approving officers.
The FOI Conference also held three plenary sessions to tackle the implementation of various initiatives on transparency, accountability, and citizen participation. 
Plenary 1, moderated by Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) executive director Malou Mangahas, aimed its discussion on the first six months of the FOI implementation. Top implementing agencies, such as the Department of Justice, Philippine Statistics Authority, and Asian Development Bank, shared their best practices, challenges faced, and lessons learned.
Plenary 2, moderated by Associate Professor Erwin Alampay of the University of the Philippines – National College of Public Administration and Governance, established the critical role of information management in implementing the FOI Program.
Plenary 3, on the other hand, discoursed on the various performance monitoring and evaluation strategies of the Duterte administration that promote transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement. The session was presided by Maria Lorelei Fajardo, an outreach specialist at the USAid – Facilitating Public Investment Project.
Other speakers at the conference included National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Office of the President Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary Lilia Guillermo, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) National Statistician Lisa Grace Bersales, National Privacy Commission (NPC) Commissioner Raymund Liboro, National Archives of the Philippines Executive Director Victorino Manalo, and Congressman Antonio Tinio, Vice Chair of the Committee on Public Information in the House of Representatives.
350 delegates from different government agencies, civil society groups, and media outfits attended the conference.
The Executive Branch has been enjoining the Legislative Branch to pass the FOI Bill into a law, and calling on the citizenry, the media, and the civil society to support its enactment. ###PCO-Content