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Plain-speaking gov’t

Aside from the perpetual sourcing and spending of cash, the government’s other chief task is to communicate to the people.

It must convey its policies, programs, and projects in a manner or medium which could be easily understood by all citizens.

The key here, quite obviously, is to put them down in simple, clear, crisp form.

In short, the government has to speak plainly in English, Filipino or both

Thus, we fully agree with and strongly support Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid in filing a bill seeking to require the use of plain language in government-issued public advisories, notices, announcements and similar documents intended for public dissemination and distribution.

Senate Bill 1911 seeks to mandate that all national government agencies, offices, instrumentalities including government-owned-and-controlled corporations to adopt the use of plain language in English, Filipino and/or other regional languages or dialects.

Lapid said that in recognition of the vital role of communication and information in nation-building, it is imperative that all documents and communications from the government intended for public disseminationn should be clear, comprehensible, concise and language-accesible.

“Karapatan ng ating mga mamamayan na makatanggap ng kumpleto at malinaw na impormasyon at anunsyo mula sa ating gobyerno sa lahat ng pagkakataon. Higit ding mahalaga na sa lahat ng advisories at pahayag mula sa gobyerno, dapat nakasulat ito sa salitang madaling maiintindihan ng ating mga kababayan. Sa ganitong paraan lamang natin masisiguro na magiging maalam ang bawat Pilipino at may sapat silang pag-intindi sa mga mensahe ng pamahalaan para sa kanila.” Lapid explained.

The bill states that the following documents issued by the government for public distribution should adopt the use of plain language in English, Filipino or regional dialects as deemed necessary:

– advisories

– notices

– announcements

– bulletins

– forms and other papers for the application, request or enjoyment of a public service, right, privilege, benefit, license, clearance, permit

– the agency’s citizen’s charter

– documents detailing and explaining a government program, activity or project

– replies and responses to an inquiry or request for assistance or information

– any other document that the PIA (Philippine Information Agency) or GCG (Governance Commission for GOCCs) as the case may be, in consultation with the agency or office concerned, deemed as important to be included in the measure

The government bodies that would be tasked to ensure and monitor compliance of this plain language requirement are the CIvil Service Commission — for national government agencies and offices; and the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG).

The two agencies would also be required to regularly conduct trainings, seminars, and other similar capacity-building activities for the offices and agencies covered by the requirement.

For plain language and in Filipino and other regional language or dialects, the Komisyon sa Wikang FIlipino is to be tapped to facilitate the necessary capacity-building activities.

“Responsibilidad natin na ang lahat ng komunikasyon, anunsyo at mahahalagang dokumento mula sa pamahalaan ay maisulat at mailatag sa paraang malinis, maayos, malinaw at walang mga teknikal na salita para mas maintindihan ng ating mga mamamayan. Kasama ito sa prinsipyo na ang gobyerno ay para sa tao at ang gobyerno ay dapat na malinaw na naiintindihan ng kanyang mamamayan,” Lapid added.