Palace: It will be a 'very, very historic week' for the PH

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Sunday, July 10, said this week will be a historic one for the country, as it awaits several landmark announcements both internationally and locally.

"Ang announcement ko lang ay (My only announcement is that) next week will be a very, very historic week for everybody," Palace Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.

Andanar is primarily referring to the impending decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on the case lodged by Manila against Beijing in 2013 over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Andanar said Solicitor General Jose Calida would have to study the decision before the Philippine government makes its moves.

"Magde-decision na po ang UN Arbitral Court at hintayin na lang po natin ang magiging decision. And kung anuman 'yung lalabas doon ay pag-aaralan po ng ating Solicitor General at from there doon po tayo mag-iisip kung ano po 'yung mga hakbang na dapat gawin ng ating pamahalaan," he said.

(The UN Arbitral Court will soon release its decision and we should just wait for it. Whatever the results will be, our Solicitor General will study it. From there, the government will decide on its next steps.)

The arbitral tribunal in The Hague is set to release its final decision Tuesday, July 12, in a case brought by the Philippines, challenging China's position.

Aside from the international ruling, the Palace official cited President Rodrigo Duterte's Executive Order on Freedom of Information as among the "historic" events that will happen in the coming days.

"At hindi lang po 'yan, meron pa pong mga ibang mga announcements na dapat po nating abangan next week tulad po ng pagpirma ng ating Pangulo ng Freedom of Information executive order at yung mga ibang announcement pa po ng iba't ibang departamento sa executive branch," Andanar said.

(Not only that, there are also other announcements like the President's signing of the Freedom of Information executive order and other announcements from other departments in the executive branch.)

The President himself earlier said he already has the draft of the EO but would want to "review it personally." (READ: Duterte reviewing Freedom of Information EO)

Duterte, during a speech aired on Thursday, July 7, read out the first line of the draft EO: "Operationalizing in the executive branch the people's Constitutional right to information and the state of policies and full public disclosure and transparency in public service and providing guidelines therefore."

He then reminded the public that the EO only covers his branch of government, the executive branch, as he cannot bind the Judiciary and Congress to follow due to separation of powers.

The President added that "it's up to Congress" if they want to pass the Freedom of Information bill. The measure has repeatedly passed in the Senate, but it continues to languish in the House of Representatives. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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