PCO represents PH in int’l conference of info commissioners

TIRANA: The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) represented the Philippines in the 15th International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC), the premier forum for global cooperation and coordination among access to information guarantor bodies.

PCO Undersecretary for Operations, Administration, Finance and GOCCs Cherbett Karen Maralit led the country’s delegation to the annual conference held in Tirana, Albania on June 3-5.

Hosted by the Commissioner for the Right to Information and Protection of Personal Data of Albania, the 2024 conference embodied the theme ‘Empowering Individuals through Access to Information: Ensuring Transparency and Inclusivity in an Interconnected World.’

The event focused on empowering individuals through access to information, featuring panel sessions, parallel sessions, side events, various meetings, and ICIC work updates.

The conference saw the participation of 210 delegates and guests, including representatives of international organizations, civil society, the
media, and the academic world.

The aim was to promote the development of international standards in the field of the right to information, creating a forum that fosters dialogue, cooperation, and the exchange of information.

In his address, Albania Prime Minister Edi Rama underscored the significance of the right to information, saying, ‘The right to information is not simply a democratic instrument but a prerequisite for the health and development of functional democracies.’

Adrian Alcala Mendez, ICIC Chair and President Commissioner of the Institute for Transparency, Access to Information, and Personal Data Protection of Mexico, said the conference ‘is not only a meeting of authorities, but also a space where we can join forces, where we can inspire each other, and where we can develop joint strategies to improve our practices.’

‘It is an opportunity to build a global community committed to the protection and promotion of the right of access to information,’ Mendez added.

The PCO, which hosted the 2023
conference through its Freedom of Information Program Management Office (FOI PMO), played several pivotal roles in this year’s event.

Maralit served as the rapporteur for a session on open data and proactive disclosure.

‘We were reminded that transparency is a never-ending process and that there would be no need for institutions handling reactive disclosure as proactive disclosure would, hopefully, soon become the norm,’ she said.

‘All of us here have a common goal – to empower citizens and to provide the best public service possible. Pursuing our shared mission to promote transparency, accountability, and inclusivity is also never-ending.’

FOI PMO Communications and Capacity Development Chief Krizia Casey Avejar shared the experience of the Philippines in applying the Right to Information Implementation Assessment during the Center for Law and Democracy’s side event on How to Assess the Implementation of Access to Information Laws.

International Affairs Lead Deniel Echevarria organized and facilitated t
he second assembly for Asian Access to Information Alliance founding members and prospective partners.

During the closed session of the conference, the PCO also delivered regional updates for Asia.

Source: Philippines News Agency

T’way Air plagued by flight delays due to aircraft maintenance issues

Hundreds of international travelers using T’way Air, a South Korean budget air carrier, have experienced flight delays this week due to apparent maintenance issues with its aircraft, according to the company Friday.

T’way Air flight TW283, which was scheduled to depart from Incheon International Airport to Osaka at around noon Thursday, was delayed by more than 11 hours due to a mechanical issue discovered during pre-flight preparations.

Due to the delay, 204 out of the 310 passengers who intended to board this flight canceled their tickets. The company offered refunds to those, while providing 100,000 won (US$73) each to the 106 other passengers in compensation.

The company’s separate flight TW184 from Bangkok to Cheongju, 112 kilometers southeast of Seoul, was also delayed for about 20 hours on Thursday due to a defective part in the engine.

South Korea’s transport ministry has carried out an investigation since December in response to a notable increase in flight cancellations and delays by T’way Air
last year.

Authorities plan to decide on administrative measures against T’way Air after concluding the investigation.

T’way Air is set to take over four routes connecting South Korea with major European cities — Frankfurt, Paris, Rome and Barcelona — from industry leader Korean Air Co., as part of conditions set by the European Union over Korean Air’s envisioned merger with No. 2 player Asiana Airlines Inc.

The airline plans to begin operating flights to Paris next month and gradually expand to the other three routes.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

N. Korea criticizes Swiss-hosted Ukraine peace summit as ‘conspiracy gathering’

North Korea on Friday strongly condemned the Ukraine peace summit to be hosted by Switzerland later this week, describing it as a “conspiracy gathering under the pretext of peace” to exclude Russia, according to the North’s state media.

The Summit on Peace in Ukraine is scheduled to run for two days starting Saturday, bringing together officials from nearly 90 countries and organizations to discuss a path toward ending the war that began nearly 28 months ago when Russia invaded Ukraine. Moscow will not be participating.

“The idea of discussing the Ukraine issue without including Russia, a key party in the conflict, is absurd,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

The statement came amid increasingly close military ties between Moscow and Pyongyang, highlighted by the impending visit to North Korea by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The United States, South Korea and other countries have accused North Korea of supplying artillery, missiles and other conventional weapons to Russia in exchange
for advanced military technology and economic aid. Both North Korea and Russia have repeatedly denied the allegations.

North Korea criticized the U.S. and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, accusing them of using the summit to instigate war and confrontation.

“It is only natural that the international community condemns this conspiratorial meeting, which is held under the guise of peace but aims to promote conflict and war,” the KCNA added.

A South Korean presidential official indicated that Putin is expected to visit North Korea “in a few days.” Meanwhile, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that Putin might travel to North Korea “as early as next week” as part of a tour that includes a stop in Vietnam.

In response, Seoul’s unification ministry questioned whether North Korea is qualified to criticize the international community’s efforts to resolve the Ukraine issue.

“We must question whether North Korea, which has blatantly supported Russia’s illegal invasion and disrupted international norms throu
gh illicit arms deals, has the right to disparage the efforts of Ukraine and the international community to uphold justice,” said Kim In-ae, the deputy spokesperson for the ministry, during a press briefing.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

Aespa’s ‘Supernova’ chosen for Dubai fountain show

Supernova,” the latest hit from K-pop girl group aespa, was selected as the background music for Dubai’s famous fountain show, the group’s agency said Friday.

Starting last Sunday, one of the two lead singles from the group’s first studio album, “Supernova,” is being featured in the show at the canal in front of Dubai Festival City Mall, one of the city’s most iconic shopping destinations, for the next year, according to SM Entertainment.

The “Imagine Show” is a major tourist attraction in Dubai, recognized by the Guinness World Records for having the world’s largest water screen projection and permanent projection mapping.

The show is known for its spectacular fountain performances that utilize advanced technology, such as color projectors, LED lights, lasers and drones, all synchronized to music.

It marks the first time a song by a K-pop girl group has been chosen as the background music for the fountain show. Previously, “Hurdle” by Suho of boy group EXO was the first K-pop song to be used at the show

Source: Yonhap News Agency

Q2 nat’l quake drill set June 28

MANILA: The second-quarter National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) will be held on June 28.

In a social media post on Friday, the Office of Civil Defense called for the public’s participation in the life-saving activity.

The office has yet to announce the venue and the scenario for this quarter’s NSED, a quarterly exercise aimed at promoting earthquake awareness and preparedness of the general public.

Earlier, Defense Secretary and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council chair Gilberto Teodoro Jr. urged the public to take the NSED seriously.

He emphasized the importance of preparedness to save more lives and respond quickly to the needs of communities.

Source: Philippines News Agency

SNU medical professors apologize for planned walkout

Medical professors of Seoul National University (SNU) offered an apology to patients for planning an indefinite strike next week in protest of the government’s medical reform, vowing to continue treatments for critically ill patients without a hitch.

The apology issued by the emergency response committee of the SNU medical professors came as the professors, who serve as senior doctors at SNU hospitals, have vowed to indefinitely suspend their hospital operations starting June 17.

Their move came as no breakthrough has been made in resolving the conflict between the government and trainee doctors who have left their worksites since February against the government’s medical school enrollment quota increase.

“We’d like to say we are really sorry to patients with critical cases and rare diseases. We’ve failed to fully fathom that our plan against the government could mean despair to patients,” the committee said during a press conference in Seoul in the day.

The planned shutdown would mean the suspension of
medical services and operations for outpatients and those who suffer mild cases, the committee said, stressing that the envisioned strike will not affect care for serious patients.

The SNU professors have demanded that the government admit to its responsibility for causing the current medical crisis and take practical measures.

They also called for efforts to improve circumstances for training junior doctors and form a consultative body for dialogue between the government and doctors.

In addition to the planned strike by SNU professors, the Korea Medical Association, a major lobby group for doctors, decided to go on a one-day strike June 18, which could involve community doctors and medical professors.

Despite fierce opposition, the government finalized the increase of the medical school admissions quota by around 1,500 seats late last month in an effort to address the shortage of doctors. It was the first such increase in 27 years.

Source: Yonhap News Agency