Public’s right to know stymied by gov’t procurement rules

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    ‘Talking heads to be used as endorsers and resource persons should also be credible and
    believable, for the project is not entertainment fare.’

    MISERABLY sad and pathetic, this news.

    The nationwide public health information campaign, a baby of presidential spokesman Harry Roque, had to wait for a while before being launched, because it has to hurdle strict rules of government procurement. It does not matter if the COVID-19 pandemic is ravaging the nation, or that one of the pillars of information dissemination (ABS-CBN radio-TV network) has been muted. The rules of the Commission on Audit had just to be observed.

    If Secretary Roque had his way, such a public information drive would have started a month ago. But to his dismay, he found out that any emergency procurement of services under the first Bayanihan Law still had to undergo the process.

    Roque, who also serves as spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF), has conceptualized an information drive called “Ingat Buhay Para sa Hanapbuhay.” By just perusing the name of the campaign, one can deduce that this could be about how ordinary Filipinos might safeguard their health against the coronavirus 2019, and still go out to eke out a living for themselves and their families.

    It is also to be expected that under such a campaign are videos and radio announcements, along with newspaper and online articles, about the real score in the government’s official response to the pandemic. We want this to be objective and true, not embellished by politicians and fawning Palace sycophants, although it will be funded by the government. Talking heads to be used as endorsers and resource persons should also be credible and believable, for the project is not entertainment fare.

    While the ideas and the spins are already in place, Roque can still tweak some of these to ensure that only the best and most productive and useful media contents are aired for popular target recipients.

    We trust Secretary Roque can deliver such a project for the people. It’s just too bad that bureaucratic red tape is providing some hurdles.

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