The Department of Justice (DOJ) denied receiving access-to-information requests for drug war data from the Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), the Palace said on Saturday, October 8.
“According to DOJ Secretary [Vitaliano Aguirre II], they have not received such requests, and should there be such requests it must confirm with FOI (Freedom of Information) guidelines,” GMA News quoted Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella’s text message.
“It is our opinion that the Duterte administration continues to abide by the perimeters we have set for ourselves,” Abella added.
However, PCIJ Executive Director Malou Mangahas said that their FOI request letters were stamped and received by the DOJ and other concerned offices.
This came after the PCIJ wrote a special report about the group and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG)’s filing a request to access information about the drug war. They made separate requests to the DOJ, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) on August 8 and 9. However, PCIJ and FLAG remained empty-handed 40 working days since filing their request, hence the report “FOI request on drug war data: PNP, DILG, DOJ won’t open up.”
After Aguirre’s denial issued through Abella, PCIJ posted their documents that were stamped and signed, showing that they were indeed received by the DOJ, DILG, and PNP.
“People may lie or evade or parse the truth, but documents often speak with more certitude and integrity,” PCIJ wrote.
So, did Aguirre lie? Or did he carelessly make a statement to counter PCIJ’s report about not getting its FOI request granted without checking with his office first?
You can find the photos of the documents posted by PCIJ in their report “DOJ received no FOI request? Check your facts, Mr Aguirre.”