Thursday, September 22, 2011

Graduate Students take their finals

Prof. Nilo Yacat's Communication Issues and Dean of AIJC Graduate School Madeline Quiamco's Craft of Communication class took their final bow with a joint final presentation.

The students worked on their topic for a whole term. The whirlwind struggle and the meticulous process they went through finally ended last September 16, 2011. The topics they presented, along with its corresponding communication issues and campaign plans varied from tourism to peace talks to plights of farmers to guiltless desserts and, finally, to typhoons.

Ramon Tuazon, president of AIJC, also attended their final presentation. He lauded the students for their creativity and suggested ways on how to improve the students' works.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Health Officials on Risk Communication Training with AIJC

Officials of government hospitals attended a risk communication training from the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication from September 7 to 9 to equip them with skills in communicating with confidence and authority amid emergencies and disasters.

"While we have reached this point in our life, we still get nervous when it comes using our communication skills," Dr. Ricardo Lustre of Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center shared during the training.

The participants were highly interested on how they should deal with the mass media, considering that it is the easiest and most accessible form of communication to the public. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

AIJC, media groups criticize Aquino as FOI continue to languish in Congress

The Freedom on Information Bill remains as Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication's top advocacy. We believe that through the FOI bill, the present administration could really fulfill his promises last elections on "daang matuwid." 
Student planks for the passage of Freedom of Information bill (Photo by Janess Ann Ellao /

Below is the statement of Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition, an alliance of media and communication groups advocating for the passage of the FOI bill. 
On September 20, 2011 in New York, President Benigno S. Aquino III will deliver his keynote remarks at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) conference titled “The Power of Open: A Global Discussion”. The conference brings together governments, civil society, industry leaders, academics and media, with panels discussing the role of openness in improving government responsiveness and accountability, fighting corruption, and creating efficiencies, innovation and growth.

Later in the day, he will join high-level representatives of seven other countries (US, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, and UK) that along with the Philippines comprise the government members of the OGP steering committee. They will officially launch the OGP by signing a declaration of principles, and by submitting their respective action plans for greater openness. They will also welcome a new group of countries into the effort, which as of the latest update count 20 more countries.

The OGP is a multilateral initiative led by the US that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to scale up their current open government practices and norms to promote transparency, empower citizens, and fight corruption.

In his remarks at the conference, and in his interaction with world leaders, President Aquino will score political points on the world stage when he renders a rosy picture of the transparency, accountability, and participation initiatives under his administration.

But at the home front, we do not find credible basis for President Aquino to beat his breast as a supposed exemplar of transparency and open government in the world.

More than 14 months into his term, President Aquino has not mustered the political will to honor his campaign pact with the people` to push for the passage of the Freedom of Information act, the legislation the country needs to give the substantive and procedural flesh to the people’s constitutional right to information.

Instead, the promise of support has since turned into ever-mutating Presidential concerns over the FOI bill. After months of work by a Malacañang study group on the FOI bill, we have not seen any appreciable advance in the President’s position.

The lack of political will on the part of President Aquino to push for the passage of the FOI law is mirrored in the lack of credible commitment in the action plan for OGP prepared by Department of Budget and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad for President Aquino’s approval. The Plan speaks of the FOI in one and only one paragraph:

“Pushing for Freedom of Information. The government will strive for the passage of a Freedom of Information Act within the current presidency, in consultation with CSOs. Pending this, it will develop and issue an executive-wide policy to improve access to information – including requirements for accurate, timely and understandable summary disclosures by government departments through their websites – within 360 days.”

 We do not find comfort in the draft plan’s statement that President Aquino’s administration will “strive for the passage of a Freedom of Information Act within the current presidency”. On the contrary, it has been his statements of concern and refusal to endorse the passage of the FOI law that has been the main reason why it is now languishing in the House of Representatives, and moving at a snail’s pace in the Senate.

Neither do we find comfort in the draft’s promise of an executive-wide policy to improve access to information. It will be limited in coverage and application only to the executive agencies, thereby exempting the judiciary and the legislature, as well as independent constitutional bodies. It will not settle strategic policy gaps like exceptions and penalties for denial of access to information requests, and other matters that only the legislature may resolve. It could be revised or reversed at the whim and caprice of succeeding Presidents, if not the incumbent President.

We did consider such executive order to be a good interim measure at the start of President Aquino’s term, under the premise that he would categorically and unambiguously support the immediate passage of the FOI law. But at this point where we have been endlessly running after his elusive concerns, we see the said executive-wide policy as only justifying the further delay in the passage of the FOI law.

We therefore see the draft Philippine Action Plan’s offer to have an executive order – with a feeble assurance that the government will see after the passage of an FOI Act before President Aquino bows out of power in 2016 – as an opportunist move to legitimize President Aquino’s low transparency comfort zone, and his ignoring of the long standing people’s clamor for an FOI law.

In truth, it is within President Aquino’s power, in fact, it is his constitutional duty, to decisively assist rather than hinder the immediate passage of the FOI law. The OGP process provides the President another opportunity (after missing out on FOI in his inaugural address, two state of the nation addresses, and two Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council Meetings) to show political will.

The Philippine Action Plan for OGP needs to express full, firm, and explicit commitment to the immediate passage of the FOI law in the present Congress. In practical terms, this will require the President to provide a definite list of his concerns, and for the executive to draw up its proposed amendments that seek to address the President’s concerns and to present them to Congress within the remaining months of 2011 for wide stakeholders consultation and legislative action.

 Failing in this, we call a spade a spade: double-talk is the Aquino government’s FOI policy.

Friday, August 19, 2011

AIJC, Coalition Urges Congress to Take Lead on Freedom of Information Bill

After winning under the banner of "Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap" (There would be no poverty if there is no corruption), many media organizations and advocates had high hopes that under President Benigno S. Aquino III, the Freedom of Information Bill, perhaps one of the most controversial bill in the House of Representatives, would be passed.

The FOI bill assures the public access to all government papers and transactions, for as long as it would not compromise national security. This right was guaranteed by the 1987 Philippine constitution. But the bill is yet to be passed and has been seemingly watered down into nothing but restrictive policies.

Lately, Aquino has been very silent on the issue of the FOI. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, in defense of the president, said that Aquino still has four years and nine months before his term would end. 

Below is the statement of FOI advocates urging the Congress to take action:

As PNoy defaults on FOI, Congress must now take the lead
"Kung talagang gusto, hahanap ng paraan. Kung talagang ayaw, hahanap ng dahilan."
This is exactly where President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III stands on the proposed Freedom of Information bill, which seeks only to enforce a constitutionally guaranteed right of the people to know and secure documents in the custody of government agencies.

The President says he supports the bill in principle, but that he has “specific questions and concerns” that he wants to be settled, before he endorses it as his priority legislation. His concerns, the President says, include his fears that FOI could unlock documents that might expose people to kidnappers, cause government losses in right-of-way cases because of property price speculations, and many other unwanted results.

Yet over the last 14 months in office, he has failed to answer and settle these concerns, and for as long a period, the FOI bill has languished in limbo.

A Malacañang study group on the FOI had told us about other, bigger concerns of the President. Through Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada, chief author of the FOI bill in the House of Representatives, we informally and indirectly engaged the study group in constructive dialogue over the last six months.

Two critical concerns on exceptions were addressed over time in three successive drafts of the FOI bill that the Palace study group crafted – “national security” and the President’s deliberative process. These were in addition to existing exceptions in the FOI bill based on national defense and foreign affairs; military or law enforcement operation; privacy; trade, industrial or commercial secrets; drafts of adjudicatory decisions; privileged information in legal proceedings; executive session of Congress; and exceptions recognized in other statutes or the Constitution.

The legislative process practically ground to a halt, precisely because the President and his study group said they were drafting their own FOI bill. We had hoped that by the opening of the second regular session of Congress, the Palace draft would be done, and the President would have certified it as a priority measure.
We had hoped as much because we still remember: As the presumptive winner of the May 2010 elections, the President had promised to assign first priority to the FOI’s passage into law, and in June 2010, as president, he launched his government on the principles of transparency, accountability, and good governance.

This is the first time we are hearing that the President has new concerns about what he says could be the undesirable results of an FOI law. His study group had not raised them at all. And it appears like pending these and even new and more concerns he could raise in the future, the FOI bill will languish in limbo for longer.
The President assures us that he supports the FOI bill “in principle” but that because his concerns linger, he could not act on his own study group’s version of the FOI bill. By all indications, the FOI bill remains stuck at the Palace.
What seems like a state of principled indecision in Malacañang makes us wonder: Is the President part of the solution, or part of the problem, in assuring the passage of the FOI bill? Or perhaps neither, because he has chosen to pass up a chance to lead on a strategic policy issue that the Constitution has so clearly mandated him and all public officials to uphold and enforce – the people’s right to know.

The fate of the FOI bill was a leadership call on the President. We had not wished he would default. Yet because he has, we refocus our efforts on the House of Representatives and the Senate, which should, without need for cue or advice from Malacañang, act now and quickly on the FOI bill.

We do so with eyes wide open that as it was in the 14th Congress under then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the FOI bill could face rough, tough sailing in the 15th Congress. While Mrs. Arroyo and her allies vigorously opposed and killed the bill before it could be ratified, President Aquino now seems to want to let the bill waste away, and fade in time.

Monday, July 18, 2011

AIJC supports Freedom of Information Bill

The Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication is an advocate of the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill, working with other organizations under the Access to Information Network (ATIN) umbrella.

For the first time in nine years, the FOI Bill almost passed in the 14th Congress, mainly due to the movement initiated by ATIN through the Right to Know Right Now! campaign. It mobilized the mass media, academe, NGOs, international FOI advocates, and even some government workers to work for the passage of the bill. At a critical hour, however, the House of Representatives failed to ratify the bicameral version of the FOI Bill due to lack of quorum.

AIJC and other FOI advocates are once again working for the passage of the FOI Bill in the 15th Congress. Versions of the bill have been filed by lawmakers both at the Senate and at the House. FOI advocates are working with its sponsors and have attended the first hearings on the bill in both Houses.   

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Graduate School Goes to Bohol for Rare Program on Sustainable Fishing

AIJC Graduate School Dean Madeline Quiamco served as resource person in the third phase of the Rare Program on Sustainable Fishing in the Philippines held at Panglao Island in Tagbilaran, Bohol.


Dean Quiamco discussed Social Marketing in the Philippines with the 11 Rare fellows who will soon implement their plans to improve management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in their respective localities. In the same training another AIJC faculty member, Dr. Paz Diaz, conducted a Skype session with the fellows on collaborative writing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Training, training, training

Aside from its graduate school, the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication also takes part in providing training in corporate communication, communication consultancy, strategic communication planning, new emerging technologies,among others, both for public and private companies.

For one, the staff of the Department of Trade and Industry in Region 2 had a training on Advocacy and Communication Skills Enhancement Training from January 17 to 21, 2011. Here are some of the pictures:

On May 25 to 26, 2011, on the other hand, the AIJC conducted a training on Effective Techinical Writing and Editing at the International Labor Organization Auditorium in Makati City. The participants were composed of personnels from the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Population Fund.

True to its commitment in harnessing "the power of communication in promoting the common good," the AIJC will continue its mission in providing training to all communicators. For inquiries, email

Sunday, June 12, 2011

On Going Classes

It's the start of another term here at AIJC Graduate School. Below is the list of on going classes from June 6 to August 6, 2011.

Craft of Communication
Tuesday, 5:30-8:30pm
Dr. Madeline B. Quiamc
Dean, AIJC

Statistics Applied to Communication             Thursday, 5:30-8:30pm 

Dr. Joey Alagaran
Faculty, Miriam College
Project Consultant, AIJC

Advanced Communication Theory
Wednesday, 5:30-8:30pm 
Prof. Gerry Josue
Director, Information Planning Service
Commission on Appointment

Communication Research Methods
Saturday, 9:00 am - 12 nn

Dr. Paz Diaz
VP for Academic Affairs

Roosevelt College, Marikina City

Communication and Governance                     Monday or Friday, 5:30-8:30 pm                                Prof. Angelo Timoteo Diaz de Rivera
Former Commissioner, CICT

President, IT Enterprises
Information Capital Technology Ventures. Inc. (ICTV)

Communication Issues


Investigative Journalism 
Seminar Series

For more information, click here.