MANILA - Journalists and lawyers groups on Saturday belied the government's claim that it did not receive formal requests for data on President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody war on drugs.
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) requested the office of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre for information on Aug. 9, the PCIJ said in a statement.
The request was forwarded to the justice department's planning and management service on Aug. 24. A follow-up request was sent to Aguirre's office on Sept. 1, the PCIJ said.
The PCIJ issued the statement after Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella, quoting Aguirre, said there had been no such requests, which served as one of the first tests of Duterte's Freedom of Information (FOI) order.
"Both Aguirre and Abella apparently do not know whereof they speak, or should have checked their facts and documents first," the PCIJ said.
The two groups also sent copies of the request letters to the offices of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, House Sepaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the Commission on Human Rights, and the committees on public information of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the PCIJ said.
On Friday, when Duterte marked his first 100 days in office, the PCIJ ran the story: “FOI request on drug war data: PNP, DILG, DOJ won’t open up.”