MANILA, Philippines – The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) continue to advocate for the Freedom of Information (FOI) policy to be retained by the incoming administration.
CHR executive director, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, cited Section 7 Article III of the Philippine Constitution which states that the “right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized.”
It also includes that “access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded by the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.”
On July 23, 2016, Executive Order No. 2, Series of 2016 or the FOI Program was signed by President Duterte to promote transparency and accountability within the government.
However, the EO does not cover the legislature, judiciary and LGUs although it encourages them to follow the order.
Despite the existing constitutional guarantee, de Guia emphasized that there is a lack of enabling legislation to exercise this right.
“So the pronouncement made by President (Rodrigo) Duterte in 2016 was not only a clear recognition of this fundamental freedom but also a promotion of an open and participatory government,” she added.
As the FOI policy acts as a mechanism to support good governance and modern democracy, De Guia said “a push for this directly corresponds to countering corruption and advocating for public accountability” and “is imperative in the fulfillment of consonant rights.”
In behalf of the CHR, De Guia reached out to government leaders, reminding them that “public trust is the cornerstone of our democracy.”
Meanwhile, PCOO will continue to lobby for the passage of an all-encompassing FOI law in the next Congress.