An informed Isabeleño is an empowered Isabeleño.” This was what Isabela City Mayor Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman intoned during her message as she led the awarding of Barangay Freedom of Information (FOI) Champions and Top Performing Barangay Information Officers during the Isabela City FOI Summit held on November 29 at the Kasinnahan Hotel and Restaurant.
The event was meant to highlight the twin accomplishments of the City in the area of Freedom of Information: the passing of Ordinance 536 of 2019 or the Isabela City FOI Ordinance, and the signing of Executive Order 30 of 2022 which operationalizes the FOI at the barangay level. No less than FOI Program Director of the Philippine Information Agency, Director Krizia Casey Avejar, recognized Isabela City in her keynote message as the first and so far, the only local government unit in the Philippines which has localized the Freedom of Information in the barangay level. Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Salliman admitted that the road to the enactment of the Isabela City FOI Ordinance was challenging but added that such was expected if one believed in good governance.
Straight from a previous assistance distribution in another venue, Department of Social and Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo joined Director Avejar, Mayor Turabin-Hataman and Vice Mayor Jhul Kifli Salliman in recognizing the 29 barangays that passed and submitted a copy of their own barangay FOI ordinance. These barangays are, in order of submission: Seaside, Riverside, Sta. Cruz, La Piedad, Timpul, Kaumpurnah Zone I, Maligue, Makiri, Kumalarang, Kapatagan Grande, Balatanay, Lumbang, Port Area, Marang-Marang, Tabiawan, Kaumpurnah Zone II, Kapayawan, Diki, Isabela Proper, Eastside, Lanote, Lampinigan, Cabunbata, Kaumpurnah Zone III, Sunrise, Masola, Calvario, Menzi, and Tabuk. Represented by their barangay chairpersons, each received a plaque of recognition and an FOI shirt courtesy of FOI Philippines-PMO.
In the same vein, also feted by way of the BION Excellence in Service and Thrust (BEST) Awards were the five top performing barangay information officers. They were identified by way of their diligence in the submission of accomplishment reports, the quality of their administration of the Facebook page of their respective barangay, their regular attendance of CIO-organized activities, establishment of a barangay information desk, their active disposition during their scheduled guesting in the HAPInfo sa Barangay Show of DXNO Radyo Komunidad, COVID-19-related information demand generation and other initiatives. Each of them received a plaque of recognition and a cash gift. Ranking fifth with a score of 80 points is BIO Krem Grace Boga of Barangay Sunrise, fourth with a score of 82 points is BIO Genalyn Garcia from Barangay Seaside, third with a score of 84 points is BIO Adzhar Tahsin from Barangay Riverside, and second with a score of 85 points is BIO Jovelyn R. Torculas from Barangay Lanote. With 90 points, the Best Performing Barangay Information Officer of Isabela City for 2022 is Rasil Siraji from Barangay Timpul. Named as Most Supportive Barangay is Barangay Timpul with Barangay Chair Ibno Tura receiving the plaque of recognition.
In his response, Barangay Seaside Chair Fitzgerald Tan –the first ever barangay in the whole of Isabela City to enact and submit a Barangay FOI Ordinance—expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be part of the FOI movement. Meanwhile, overcoming his nerves while speaking, BIO Rasil Siraji of Barangay Timpul, adjudged as the Best Performing Barangay Information Officer for 2022, credited his accolade with the collaboration and cooperation among members of the Isabela City Barangay Information Officers Network who he also acknowledged have exerted admirable efforts to nurture FOI in the barangay level.
In his remarks, DSWD Secretary Tulfo reminded the barangay officials and public servants in attendance to remain committed to transparency, accountability, and honesty in all government services and transactions, emphasizing that the people look up at public servants as role models.
Also present to give messages of support were Philippine Information Agency IX Assistant Regional Director Rene Carbayas, and CLGOO of DILG-Isabela City FOU Pilar Gudio who represented Department of Interior and Local Government IX Regional Director Paisal Abutazil. Councilors Yusop Abubakar, Arjemar Ajibon, Bimbo Epping, IPMR Marymay Julhari and the city’s barangay chairpersons and their information officers also graced the occasion. In the audience were various city department and division heads led by City Administrator and City Legal Officer Atty. Adzlan Imran. Consultant to the Isabela City Barangay Affairs and Governance Office Pedrito Eisma gave the closing remarks.
The Isabela City FOI Summit ended with the unveiling of the initial batch of brochures that contain the different service offerings and contact details of the City Government’s many offices. These will be distributed among barangays every visit of the Library and Information for Barangay Readers Outreach or LIBRO mobile library of the City Information Office. (Words by M. Guerrero/Photos by K. Evardo and M. Santos, CIO)