The enemy

December 14,2016 - 10:08 PM

TOON_15DEC16_THURSDAY_renelevera_FOI

We are just as surprised as anyone on hearing reports that our reporter Jose Santino Bunachita was bluntly told to “get out” by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña during a news conference held yesterday.

The mayor didn’t shout at nor openly insult our reporter; but Bunachita told us that Osmeña, in no uncertain terms and brooking no questions, told him to get out of his office for no reason whatsoever.

Bunachita did, and he was left in the dark to wonder why he had been excluded from the news conference, having to ask from colleagues the reason for his sudden expulsion from the mayor’s office.

The reporters had no answer, and like them, we can only speculate why Osmeña told Bunachita to get out of his office.

Then again, the mayor had been criticized for acting imperiously at times towards reporters and people he deems to be offensive, though in Bunachita’s case, at least he took the initiative to tell our reporter point blank to get out personally rather than have one of his subalterns tell Bunachita about it.

At any rate, we trust that the mayor knows by now the Freedom of Information order recently signed by President Rodrigo Duterte that requires executive agencies under his administration to provide access to information.

One of the facets of FOI is ensured access by the media to public officials for interviews on issues deemed relevant to public welfare. The mayor may defend himself for ordering Bunachita to get out and thus denying him access to his office for any news or pronouncements on policies he may have by saying that he didn’t order anyone else other than Bunachita from going out.

If he goes by that reasoning, then it stands to reason that he is playing favorites and he is implementing selective access to information by allowing others he considers friendly to cover and interview him while denying access to others who he deems to be “the enemy.”

We have yet to hear official confirmation from Mayor Osmeña that Bunachita is banned from interviewing him or covering his press conferences, but the fact that he told him to get out sends a strong signal that he’s leaning toward that direction.

Maybe he wants us to send a reporter he considers to be friendly and easily influenced to cover him, or he just wants to ban Cebu Daily News altogether from his office. Maybe it’s another reason we don’t know, and the mayor is leaving us to speculate about it.

Whatever the reason, we are not left without options to do our job of covering the mayor since he is still an elected public official, and he knows that.

And even he knows somewhere in his heart of hearts that we cannot afford to bend over backwards nor kowtow to his every whim since that would run contrary to our mission statement of being an independent newspaper.

By telling Bunachita to get out, he considers Cebu Daily News as “the enemy” of his administration and of his office. Which shouldn’t be the case since we’re not picking a fight with him but neither are we backing down and cowering like slaves under a tyrant’s heel in case he does.

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TAGS: Cebu City, Cebu City Mayor, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, Cebu Daily News, Duterte, enemy, expulsiom, Freedom of Information, mayor Tomas Osmeña, Osmeña, Rodrigo Duterte, Tomas Osmeña

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