The Right to Know Right Now! lauds the Department of Health’s initiatives on timely information, but calls for more critical information that respond to persistent questions on the state of the pandemic in the country.

R2KRN co-convenor Jenina Joy Chavez said that the coalition lauds the DOH’s initiative, as Co-chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), to utilize different information platforms to disseminate COVID-19 related information to the public.

“The DOH is the only government agency that releases and updates information on a regular basis, even more than once daily. These timely information it posts enable us to do our analysis on the current situation and submit recommendations that we think are necessary,” she said.

“However, the threat of COVID-19 transmission is still high and we need to take care that the system is not overwhelmed by sharp spikes in cases. And while people are properly cautious, there is a need for more critical information because as long as questions persist, there will be uncertainty that everything that can be done is being done,” she added.

The coalition also stressed in the report that it is imperative for the government to promptly post actual issuances.

“EO 112, on the imposition of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and General Community Quarantine (GCQ) on May 1 to 15 were posted 8 days after it had been publicly announced. This should not be the case. Official guidelines must be released the same day the pronouncement was made to serve as guidance and reference of the stakeholders and the public.,” the report stated.

Moreover, the coalition said it stays committed to advocating for transparency and accountability by lodging follow-up and additional FOI requests.

The group cited that more information and data were released by the government, such as the names of Social Amelioration Program (SAP) beneficiaries and the regional list of CAMP-approved establishments. However, there is no standard presentation format and not all are downloadable or in open data format.

The group also highlighted several private sector and civil society initiatives that process information to make them more useful to ordinary Filipinos.

Finally, in a statement on the ABS-CBN shutdown, the coalition emphasized the need to focus on fighting COVID-19.

“In this time of national emergency and quarantine, information is as essential as those protective equipment and food supplies. People need useful information from as many sources, in the same way government needs as many outlets to channel the information it dispenses. Stopping the operations of a major media network now is not only ill-timed but also undermines efforts to keep people informed. It distracts us from our main task at this time—to fight COVID-19, by feeding political division and aggravating distrust.”