Northbound Philippines News

FOI, media workers welfare bills get solons’ support

MANILA – Priority policies currently pushed by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) have recently earned more support from legislators in the Congress and Senate.

In an interview on Thursday, PCOO Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan discussed efforts to endorse the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, as well as the Media Workers Welfare bill to the office of Senators Christopher “Bong” Go, Joel Villanueva, and Bong Revilla, and House Majority Leader Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.

“Ang aming opisina ay in close coordination sa kani-kanilang legislative teams to take strategic actions to lobby the FOI bill in both houses (Our office is in close coordination with their legislative teams to take strategic actions to lobby the FOI bill in both houses),” he said during the Network News Briefing.

PCOO has been lobbying for support to grant more accessible opportunities for media workers in the availment of housing programs, regular employment, job security, and health benefits with the Media Workers Welfare bill, and with the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) taking the lead.

The proposed bill was submitted to Congress in early 2019 and sponsored by the Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) party-list.

The FOI bill, on the other hand, seeks to expand the scope of open governance by directing agencies to disclose information on projects and other matters that involve public interest.

With this, the FOI-Project Management Office has launched an online campaign for citizens to support the passing of the FOI Act.

Ablan noted that they continuously promote FOI through various communications and partnership initiatives, including the conduct of capacity-building programs for local government units (LGUs).

His team has also adapted to the new normal in reaching out to LGUs by organizing its first virtual FOI conference, which is slated on August 28 with participants from the Visayas regions.

“Layunin po ng FOI conference for LGUs na mapalawig ang kaalaman at kasanayan ng ating mga LGUs sa pagpapatupad ng FOI program sa kani-kanilang komunidad. Layon ng activity na ito na madagdagan pa ang mga LGUs na may FOI ordinance or executive order [The FOI conference aims to widen the knowledge and skills of our LGUs in the implementation of the FOI program in their respective communities],” he said.

Another landmark capacity-building effort of the PCOO is the FOI workshop for librarians with pilot webinar sessions on Sept. 11 and Oct. 16.

Ablan encouraged registered librarians to participate in the webinar where they can also earn Continuing Professional Development (CPD) units upon completion.

“Dahil kinikilala po ng FOI office ang papel ng ating librarians bilang (Because the FOI office acknowledges the role of librarians as) essential gatekeepers of information, we want them to be equipped with knowledge and skills as they implement the FOI program in their respective libraries and learning institutions,” he said.

PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar lauded these developments and said, “We remain optimistic that these policies, the FOI and Media Workers Welfare bills, will be heard and given a chance, which will help springboard empowerment of citizens.” (PCOO PR)

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