Palace urges Congress to pass FOI bill

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Malacañang on Friday, December 13, renewed its call for the passage of a Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill, saying it is needed for transparency in the government.

“Freedom of Information… must be implemented across the bureaucracy: the executive, legislature, judiciary, including the local government units. I still remain hopeful that our lawmakers will finally heed the call of the FOI-Project Management Office, the Civil Society Organizations, and the people, and pass the FOI Law,” said Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.

He added, “While the state wields immense power entrusted to it by the people, the exercise of said power can be placed under the lens of strict scrutiny through transparency, through the freedom of information.”

According to Andanar, 18,036 requests had been lodged on the eFOI portal this 2019, which makes for a 47 percent success rate.

Sen. Grace Poe, for her part, filed Senate Bill No. 121 or the “People’s Freedom of Information Act of 2019” and called on her colleagues in the 18th Congress to support her and give the bill “one big push.”

Cebu 1st District Rep. Raul del Mar, meanwhile, has already filed an FOI bill in the House through House Bill No. 12.

In July 2016, Duterte issued Executive Order  No. 2 in the absence of an FOI law.

The EO imposes a policy of full public disclosure and transparency in public service to promote accountability. It also sets the guidelines for requesting and releasing information from offices under the executive branch. It does not, however, include the legislature, judiciary and even local government units (LGUs).

Communications Assistant Secretary and FOI executive director Kris Ablan expressed hope that Congress would “swiftly” pass an FOI bill.

“We are optimistic about the passage of the FOI Law in the 18th Congress,” he said.

Duterte in 2016 said it was the Congress’ turn to pass the FOI bill so that “the people’s right to information will be honored across all branches and levels of the government.” 

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