Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma challenged public information officers (PIO) in Central Visayas to be “proactive, informative and organized”.
He expressed this during the opening of the three-day Regional Association of Development Information Officers’ (RADIO-7) 21st Consultative Conference and 1st Information Summit last June 9 at Hotel Elizabeth, Cebu City.
Themed “Relevant Information: Tool for Sustainable Development in Tourism, Environment and Disaster Preparedness”, the summit was designed to tackle information planning for climate change, disaster preparedness and tourism in Central Visayas.
Coloma urged PIOs to be knowledgeable and literate on disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) so as to relay the right information to the right people. He emphasized the need to be organized in local communities to raise the literacy level of the people, especially those in grassroots communities, on disaster risk reduction and management.
In his speech, Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III said that PIOs are two-way portals of information – from the government to the people, and from the people to the government.
“You provide the forum where constituents share and exchange opinions about their communities and government officials and where those in government can directly address the issues in specific communities,” said Davide.
He also highlighted the importance of participation in governance.
“Meaningful participation cannot occur without sufficient information and knowledge. Inform the people what the government is doing and why those in the government do what they do,” he said.
Also, Davide urged PIOs to go beyond relaying disaster warnings by educating the people on environment protection as well as disaster risks and hazards.
RADIO-7 and Cebu Association of City and Municipal Public Information Officers President Carlo Dugaduga urged PIOs to advocate for the increase of level of consciousness of their respective communities in preparing for disasters and protecting the environment.
He emphasized that the natural environment is the people’s best asset; thus, stakeholders should be the primary protector of it.
“Kon wala ang atong kinaiyahan, wala usab kita’y angay nga ipasigarbo, wala’y turista muanhi, ug dili kita maka-generate og daghang trabaho (If not for our environment, we have nothing to promote, no reason for tourists to come and no opportunities to generate jobs),” said Dugaduga.
He also noted the need for local government units to expand their services to include environmental protection and showcase of local tourist spots.
Present in the summit were Philippine Information Agency 7 Regional Director Minerva Newman and city and municipal information and tourism officers of Cebu, Siquijor, Negros Oriental, and Bohol.