Media barred from covering Palace launch of FOI manual, portal

Media barred from covering launch of FOI manual, portal

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Media barred from covering launch of FOI manual, portal

Friday, November 25, 2016

MANILA. Presidential Communication Office Secretary Martin Andanar gives a copy of People's Freedom of Information (FOI) Manual to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Congressman Antonio Tinio during the Ceremonial Presentation of the People's FOI Manual and eFOI Facility Program Launching on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016 at the Heroes Hall, Malacanang Palace, Manila. (PNA)

REPORTERS from privately-owned media on Friday were not allowed by Malacañang to cover the official launch of the executive department's Freedom of Information (FOI) portal and manual.

The Palace only allowed the state-run People's Television (PTV) 4 and Radio-Television Malacañang (RTVM) to cover the launching of FOI, which takes effect starting Friday, November 25.

Earlier in the day, members of the Malacanang Press Corps initially received a text blast from the Office of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) inviting them to the 3 p.m. rites.

"Hi, friends! You are invited for the ceremonial presentation of Freedom of Information and launching of e-FOI today at 3 p.m., Heroes Hall, Malacañang. Thank you," the SMS reads.

It, however, came as a surprise when private media were not invited to go to the Rizal Hall to witness the event.

A staff from the PCO told SunStar that the office had later on made an updated advisory shortly before the lunch rites, announcing that the ceremonial presentation of FOI and launching of e-FOI would be "close-in coverage" for PTV-4 and RTVM only.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, who went to the Palace's press working area after the event, told reporters that Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea ordered that only state-owned media could go inside.

"I only found out [that there were no members of private media] when I was speaking [during the event]. I asked, 'Why is there no private media?' 'That was the order of the Office of the Executive Secretary,'" Andanar said.

Andanar, however, clarified that there was no intention to prevent the private media from covering the FOI launch.

He said there was no "malice" in not inviting reporters from private companies since the event was broadcast live.

"We're not hiding anything," Andanar said. "That's the decision of [Medialdea] and yes, we have to respect that. There are things that we have to respect, the same way we respect you guys when you write your stories." (Sunnex)

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