DAVAO CITY -- One of the best ways to combat disinformation and fake news is the Freedom of Information (FOI), an official of the Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) said on Monday.
“There is so much disinformation you see on social media, on TV, on the broadsheets and on the radio. How we are going to combat fake news? The answer to that is Freedom of Information,” PCOO Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan said during the National Information Convention (NIC) 2018 at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City.
Speaking before more than 1,500 public and private communicators from 16 regions, Ablan said FOI has been gaining success in addressing the complaints and queries of the people to the executive branch of the government.
“We do have proof that FOI is successful as a tool for citizens’ access to information,” Ablan said after sharing stories of three citizens whose requests have been addressed through the FOI program.
He said FOI can also be used by government officials particularly those working in the public information offices, both in the national and local government levels.
“How? FOI can be used as a listening tool. In our survey, we found that less than 30 percent of the information we post on our website is downloaded by our citizens,” Ablan said.
Ablan added that family income and expenditures of government officials is the most sought information by the public followed by census on population and housing as well as demographics in the Philippine Statistics Authority.
In the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), he said, people wanted to know the budget allocation of every government project and offices, as well as the internal revenue allotment (IRA) of each LGU.
The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA)’s regional development plan has the most number of queries as well as the country’s economic reforms.
Under the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Ablan said public wanted to know more about the budget allocated to the disadvantaged municipalities.
Ablan said FOI can also be used to support the campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte to curb graft and corruption in government.
FOI, he said, will serve as another source of accurate information about other programs of the government particularly the shift of government to federalism and "Build, Build, Build" program.
He encouraged all the LGUs to pass their respective version of FOI “because it’s the best practice.”
“The people should pressure their local leaders to pass an ordinance on FOI,” he said.
President Duterte has designated PCOO as the lead agency in the implementation of the FOI program in the executive branch.
Duterte signed Executive Order No. 2 which implements the FOI, three weeks after he took his oath as president on June 30, 2016.
Through the aggressive campaign of the PCOO, Ablan said, all the 189 lead national government agencies got on board the FOI implementation.
He said their next target this year is to have 100 percent compliance for the government-owned and controlled corporations or GOCCs and State Universities and Colleges. (PNA)
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