Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

It’s time to have an all-encompassing Freedom of Information (FOI) mechanism in the Philippines, a Palace official said Thursday as he renewed his call for Congress to pass a FOI bill before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte ends.

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In a prerecorded video message during the FOI Awards, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar urged lawmakers to prioritize the passage of the FOI Bill, which mandates full disclosure of official public records from offices under the Executive Branch.

“On behalf of PCOO, I am one with the FOI-[Project Management Office] in pushing for the passage of the FOI Bill. We owe it to the Filipino people to have an all-encompassing FOI mechanism in the country. I appeal to our lawmakers to double the time and effort in making the change happen before the end of this administration,” Andanar said.

He said is hoping that FOI will be implemented across all branches of government and down to the local government units (LGUs).

“Our desire for development requires transparency and accountability; and this is no one man’s job. The fulfillment of our vision requires cooperation and collective action. Ergo, no efforts and not a single dime shall be put in vain when it is for the benefit of our countrymen,” he added.

Executive Order No. 2, Series of 2016 or the FOI Program was signed by Duterte on July 23, 2016, days after he assumed office

However, the EO does not cover the legislature, judiciary and LGUs although it encourages them to observe the order.

During his final State-of-the-Nation Address on July 26, Duterte said he signed the bill early in his presidency to promote transparency and accountability in the government, including his office.

Andanar said the fifth year of the implementation of the FOI rose to the challenge brought by the Covid-19 pandemic and reaped achievements in pushing for transparency and accountability in the government.

“As a leading agency for the operationalization of the FOI Program, the PCOO, through the FOI Project Management Office, has made every effort to reach Filipinos at the national level, provincial level, and even down to every barangay to inform them of their right to information and keep them on board with the plans, targets, and actions that our President has laid out for the nation,” he said.

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