MANILA, December 5, 2017 — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday urged the other branches of government to follow the lead of the Executive branch and set up their own freedom of information (FOI) programs as a measure to strengthen the country’s democratic institutions further.
In a message on the anniversary celebration of the executive department’s FOI program, Duterte said the Executive branch has made great strides in providing access to relevant records, research data, documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, and decisions since he institutionalized the State’s policy of “full public disclosure and transparency in the public service” through Executive Order No. 2.
The FOI program was launched on November 25, 2016, or four months after the President signed EO No. 2 on July 23, 2016.
“I hope that both the legislative and judicial branches of government would join us in strengthening our democratic institutions by following suit and instituting measures that would allow unfettered public access to relevant information about their affairs, subject to reasonable restrictions and regulations in exceptional circumstances,” Duterte said.
The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), the lead FOI implementing agency, led the first anniversary celebrations at the Rizal Park Hotel in Manila with the holding of the first Freedom of Information Awards Ceremony.
The awarding ceremony gave recognition to the significant contributions of government departments and attached agencies to the development and progress of the FOI program, including government-owned and/or controlled corporations (GOCCs), state universities and colleges (SUCs), and local government units (LGUs).
In his speech, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the accomplishment made by his office, the FOI team, partner agencies, and partner organizations are “something to be proud of.”
He said 96 percent or 181 national government agencies have already complied with the submission of FOI manuals. Also complying are 69 GOCCs and 26 SUCs.
In terms of requests, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) topped the list with 420 requests, followed by the Department of Health with 220, the Department of Transportation with 173, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) with 153, and the PCOO with 101.
The FOI winners per category were the DBM (department), the PSA (agency), the National Housing Authority (GOCC), and the University of the Philippines (SUC).
“These milestones make us proud, and we celebrate these triumphs,” Andanar said. (Jose Cielito Reganit/PNA)