Yvonne T. ChuaTHE POWER OF AN INFORMED CITIZENRY
PHILIPPINES Population (1999): 77 million Land Area: 300,000 sq. km. GNP (1999): $78.0 billion GNP per capita (1999): $1,020 Average annual GNP growth (1998-1999) >> 3.6% Life Expectancy (1998): Male 67, Female 71 Population below poverty line (1997) >> 40.6% Gini index of income distribution (1997) >> 46.2% Newspapers/1,000 people (1996) >> 79 Television sets/1,000 people (1998) >> 108 Personal computers/1,000 people (1998) >> 15.1 Internet hosts/10,000 people (2000) >> 1.58Source: World Development Report 2000/2001
1987 CONSTITUTION protects freedom of expression, freedom of the press and access to information “These broad constitutional guarantees have helped Filipinos in their pursuit of information in the possession of the State, and have provided sufficient defense against attempts by the bureaucracy to withhold information on matters of public concern. As a result, Filipinos ae able to enjoy greater participation in governance, and occasionally even help change the course of their nations history.”
MEDIA IN THE PHILIPPINES Filipinos expect journalists as "watchdogs“. Access to information has yet to be institutionalized and is often subject to constraints. Information access depends on the assertiveness of citizens, how aware they are and how successful in accessing information. Political developments (2000, 2001) have awakened Filipinos to the power of information and of an informed citizenry. ~People Power II
INFORMATION BLACKOUT Information Blackout during the Spanish Rule, American Rule, Japanese Rule, Martial Law. “…Filipinos would always find ways to get the truth out to the rest of the populace.” (Chua, 2001) Filipinos would always include freedom of expression, freedom of press ad access to information in the constitution.
LEGAL SAFEGUARDSMARTIAL LAW Secrecy in the government reached unprecedented and ridiculous heights Thousands of documents were kept beyond the reach of citizens and the courts and were arbitrarily classified as “top secret,” “secret,” or “confidential.” “declassified intelligence information” – used to either arrest or discredit Marcos’s enemies
LEGAL SAFEGUARDS The Supreme Court had acted as an “effective safeguard against abuses of civil servants.” It supported the right of people to information freedom of the press journalists right to access public records and to gather information journalists’ obligation to check the accuracy of information that they disseminate and the obligation to keep the public informed on matters of public concern
THE PROBLEMS OF A FREE PRESS Newspapers 12 brooadhseets: 10 in English, 2 in Filipino 17 Manila-based tabloids, 5 Chinese-language dailies 1/5 of households in Metro Manila read broadsheets ½ of households in Metro Manila read tabloids, which focuses on sex, sleaze, gore Radio 517 radio stations (283 are AM) The country has no tradition of documentary or in-depth radio reporting. TV 3 out of 6 are owned by the government --- the government meddle with news programs especially during election season 3 out of 6 are not owned by the government --- the news and current affair programs contain mostly of sex, crime, the occult, and so called infotainment
THE PROBLEMS OF A FREE PRESS The press has been criticized for faulty attribution Sensationalism Unfairness lack of balance biased reporting single sourcing Inaccuracy unethical conduct (including ignorance and corruption)
THE PROBLEMS OF A FREE PRESS Media owners Defend/preserve their business interests > assure independence of the editorial staff Journalists Shortage of experienced journalists: salary and training Relationships between journalists and sources Corruption by politicians
DEFENDING THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION 1987 Constitution Bill of Rights Article 3 Section 7 “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and paper pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government reserch data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to limitations as may be provided by law.” Article 2, Section 28 “Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.”
DEFENDING THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION Supreme Court Acknowledges that there is no rigid test to determine whether information is of public concern has held certain information to be public in nature, which include Laws of general application Information on the civil-service eligibilities of sanitarians Information on loans granted by the GSIS Original and amended application for the installation of a petrochemical plant submitted to the DTI Post-review voting slips accomplished by MTRCB members
DEFENDING THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION The Charter guarantees access to official records documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions government research data used as basis for policy development journal of proceedings, records and the books of Congress information on foreign loans statements of assets and liabilities of civil servants requires government offices to submit annual report and to deposit copies with the National Archives
REFERENCE Chua, Y. T. (2001). The Power of an Informed Citizenry. In S. Coronel, The Right to Know: Access to Information in Southeast Asia (pp. 121-151). Quezon City: Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.