MANILA - The executive branch’s Freedom of Information program is now under the direct supervision of the Office of the President after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered the reorganization of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).
The FOI Program - which was operationalized during the first year of then President Rodrigo Duterte - “allows Filipino citizens to request any information about government transactions and operations” as long as it does not “put into jeopardy privacy and matters of national security.”
Marcos Jr.’s Executive Order No. 2 merges the FOI Program Management Office, the Good Governance Office and the Bureau of Communications Services into the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), which is now under the direct supervision of the Office of the President.
“There is a need to rationalize and consolidate the communications arm of the administration for a more efficient delivery of public policy to the general public,” read EO No. 2.
“It is the policy of the administration to provide true, accurate, and relevant information through the effective utilization of communications assets and resources,” it read.
The FOI Program’s enabling order was among the first documents Duterte signed when he assumed the presidency in 2016.
“FOI is an integral element of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s Good Governance Plan aligned to reforms and initiatives that pursue greater transparency, accountability, and citizen participation in governance,” the FOI website read.
The FOI Program was originally under the PCOO as the former administration tasked the agency to be the “coordinator of all government agencies to ensure that the FOI Program is properly implemented.”
Press Secretary Trixie Cruz Angeles has yet to discuss details of the EO and how it would affect the operations and services of the FOI program.
FROM PCOO TO OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY
The realignment of the FOI Program comes as Marcos’ EO No. 2 renamed the PCOO as the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS).
Under the EO, government-owned channels Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) and the People’s Television Network (PTV), as well as the National Printing Offices, the News and Information Bureau, the APO Production Unit, and the Bureau of Broadcast Services are considered as attached agencies of the OPS.
The OPS shall have 8 undersecretaries for the following concerns:
- Operations, Plans and Policies
- Administration, Finance and Procurement
- Legal Affairs
- Media Accreditation and Relations
- Digital Media Services
- Print Media Services
- Broadcast Media Services
- Special Concerns
Cruz-Angeles earlier named officials who will lead under her, which includes former ABS-CBN journalist Ina Reformina, former People's Journal reporter Marlon Purificacion, digital media strategist Emerald Ridao, and former TV5 reporter Dale De Vera.
The said Marcos order also abolishes the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson.
The President earlier refused to name a presidential spokesperson, saying he would rather answer queries from the media himself.
RTVM NOW UNDER PMS
Marcos’ Executive Order also places the Radio Television Malacañang - which records and broadcasts all presidential events - under the “direct supervision and control of the Presidential Management Staff" or PMS.
According to the Official Gazette, PMS is the "primary staffing arm" of the Office of the President, which handles logistics, briefing papers, and research.
“All redundant positions, divisions, and units as may be determined by the OP (Office of the President), shall be abolished,” the EO read.
About a week since he took oath as the Philippines’ 17th President, Marcos has only faced the media once in a press conference that lasted for about half an hour.