Miriam reminds Palace on plain language


Posted at Nov 27 2012 12:10 AM | Updated as of Nov 27 2012 08:10 AM

MANILA, Philippines - In the age of social media, how does Malacañang communicate effectively with the public in only 140-character tweets, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago asked Monday.

Santiago, in her interpellation of the proposed 2013 national budget and the funds that will be given to the Presidential Communications Operations Office, said Malacañang should take a closer look at Senate Bill No. 1859, or the proposed Plain Language Act, that she filed in July this year.

"The bill aims to have government documents issued to the public be written clearly and in plain language," the lawmaker said.

"The bill defines 'plain language' to be language that the intended audience readily understands and uses because that language is clear, concise, well-organized and follows the best practices of plain language writing," she explained.

Santiago said the purpose of the bill is to improve the effectiveness and accountability of government agencies to the public by promoting clear communications that the public can understand and use.

"Since I will have to refile this bill for the next Congress, how does the Presidential Communication Operations Office effectively articulate government's programs to the public in terms of the use of language, more importantly those without access to Facebook and Twitter?" she asked.

Laws and regulations have been enforced in other countries requiring the use of plain language in official government reports, documents, and communication.

These include the US Plain Writing Act of 2010, which orders US federal agencies to use plain writing in all documents that the agency issues or revises, train government employees in "plain writing," and establish a system oversight on agencies' compliance with the law, and get public response on how agencies avoid using either highly technical jargon or convoluted English.