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Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines goes online

July 27, 2010 7:00pm
The Office of the President yesterday launched the cornerstone of what it hopes will be a comprehensive online presence for the Philippine government: the digital version of the Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines.

A screengrab of the Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines website, current as of 7:30pm (Philippine Time), July 27, 2010. GMANews.TV

The print version of the Gazette contains matters of public interest, including newly-enacted laws and generally applicable executive and administrative orders.

"We're looking to collate all government issuances under one executive site," said Manolo Quezon III, a member of the President's communications team. "Why reinvent the wheel when we've already had (the Gazette) since time immemorial?" he added.

According to Article 2 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, "Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette".

'Erratic release and limited readership'

Established under Commonwealth Act No. 638 of 1901, the Official Gazette is mandated to publish:

"(1) all important legislative acts and resolutions of a public nature of the Congress of the Philippines;

"(2) all executive and administrative orders and proclamations, except such as have no general applicability;

"(3) decisions or abstracts of decisions of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals as may be deemed by said courts of sufficient importance to be so published;

"(4) such documents or classes of documents as may be required so to be published by law; and

"(5) such documents or classes of documents as the President of the Philippines shall determine from time to time to have general applicability and legal effect, or which he may authorize so to be published".
However, the Gazette takes time to compile and publish, has a limited print run, and is only available on a subscription basis.

Moreover, in the case of TaƱada v. Tuviera in 1986, the Gazette was criticized for its "erratic release and limited readership." Although the Court eventually upheld the Civil Code in its decision on the case, then-president Corazon Aquino later issued Executive Order No. 200 of 1987 to ammend the Code such that "Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication either in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines".

Because the electronic edition of the Gazette can be updated much faster than traditional print media, some observers have wondered whether the provisions of the Civil Code are applicable to the online edition.

"There is now the possibility with the new online presence of the Official Gazette that the 15-day period might be counted from the time the laws or issuances are posted online at," said Oli Reyes on the Law Innovations (Philippines) blog.

However, Quezon said that the print version of the Gazette still takes precedence over its electronic counterpart. "The online version doesn't supplant the paper version, which is what the law and jurisprudence required. So the Official Gazette online is updated daily, then the weekly edition is printed," he explained.

Bringing past editions online

Quezon also said that, in addition to bringing present and future editions of the Gazette online, the president's communications team is working to digitize all past editions for quick online accessibility. The team is even working out how to optimize the searchability of the Gazette's database, he said.

"We have a small team designing the architecture and we'll be expanding it in stages. (The online Gazette) will be edited under the Office of the President and will be the place where you can get all official notices, departmental regulations, and even appointments and designations. It will be fully searchable, just like the American Presidency project. That's where we want to go," he expounded.

As the cornerstone of a much larger online initiative, the Official Gazette website also has a linked Twitter account, and an as-yet inactive link to other "Social Media". - GMANews.TV
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