186 gov’t agencies now on FOI website; Duterte’s office not included
MANILA, Philippines — One hundred eighty six government agencies are already enrolled in the electronic Freedom of Information (eFOI) portal since it was launched in November 25, 2016. But the Office of the President (OP) is not one of them.
The eFOI is a website where the public can file requests for information from select government agencies.
Communications Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan, who is also the FOI executive director, said they have invited the Office of the President to go onboard but he said the OP wants requests to be filed manually at the Malacañang Records Office.
“FOI-PMO extended an invitation to the OP to onboard in the eFOI facility [www.foi.gov.ph]. We were informed that as a matter of policy, specifically the approved OP FOI Manual, FOI requests for OP can be done manually/personally with the Malacañang Records Office,” Ablan said in a text message to INQUIRER.net.
As of posting time, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea has not responded when asked to comment on the matter.
Aside from the 186 government agencies, Ablan said 91 Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations, 84 State Universities and Colleges, 98 Local Water Districts and one Local Government Unit are already onboard the eFOI portal.
On July 23, 2016, Duterte issued Executive Order No. 2, which laid down a policy of full public disclosure and transparency in public service to promote accountability, and set the guidelines for requesting and releasing information from offices under the executive branch.
The passage of an FOI bill was a campaign promise of President Rodrigo Duterte, but halfway through his six-year term as President, the Chief Executive has not seen Congress pass any FOI bill.
“Our strategies are to continue working with current FOI champions like Senator Grace Poe, as well as to seek out new partners to get this legislation passed,” Ablan said.
Poe, an FOI advocate, filed Senate Bill No. 121 or the “People’s Freedom of Information Act of 2019” and urged her colleagues to support her in giving the bill “one big push.”
In his budget message to Congress in 2016, the President touted the FOI bill saying: “It’s Congress’ turn to immediately pass the long overdue FOI law so that the people’s right to information will be honored across all branches and levels of the government.”
Though not mentioned in his fourth State of the Nation Address in July, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte remains supportive of the passage of the FOI bill into law.
“Yes, of course and the fact is he issued an executive order on FOI precisely to show Congress that it takes only political will to do that. And he showed it by example,” Panelo earlier said in a Palace briefing. /jpv
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