November 10, 2016 — Government agencies are busy preparing for the enforcement of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Freedom of Information initiative, which will take effect on November 25, 2016.
In a statement released early today, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Executive Order No. 2 takes effect 120 days after President Rodrigo Duterte it on July 23, 2016.
“This is a response to the call for transparency and full public disclosure of information,” he said.
Andanar said the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) has taken the lead to oversee the operation of the FOI program.
“Together with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), National Privacy Commission (NPC), Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), National Archives of the Philippines (NAP), and the World Bank, the PCOO has guided the different agencies in knowing more how FOI works in other countries, as well as assist them to formulate agency implementing rules,” he said.
The FOI is a government mechanism that allows Filipino citizens to request any information about government transactions and operations, provided that it will not put privacy and matters of national security into jeopardy.
“We have conducted workshops for the agencies of the Executive branch, aiming to ensure that all agencies will be able to institute their own internal procedures on handling the FOI requests,” Andanar said.
He also said the processes will be published via the respective agencies’ People’s Manual and will be used as the requestors’ guide.
Andanar said under the EO, any Filipino citizen can make an FOI Request. Requesting parties are required to present proof of identification, specifically any government-issued ID.
He said the following are the rules governing FOI:
- Requesting parties may ask information on official records, public records, and documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development.
- An FOI request can be made before all government offices under the Executive Branch, including government owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs), and state universities and colleges (SUCs).
- FOI requests must be sent to the specific agency of interest, to be received by its respective Receiving Officer.
- There are no fees to make a request but the agency may charge a reasonable fee for necessary costs, including costs of printing, reproduction, and/or photocopying.
Andanar said agencies will keep on improving their processes of handling requests as they discover the frequently requested information, the requesting party’s preferred formats, and others.
“This is a new task for our fellow government workers. As we continue to learn the ropes, we will be able to craft mechanisms that may further improve efficiency, because this resolve to promote transparency is a big leap for the country’s progress,” he said.