BARMM legislators seek sweeping FOI measure for region
COTABATO CITY—A group of members of the interim Bangsamoro parliament is pushing for a freedom of information law in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) which is currently completing its bureaucracy.
The measure was filed as Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Bill No. 83, seeking to establish a system for offices in the Bangsamoro government mandating respect for and upholding people’s right to information.
According to the bill’s authors, passing legislation was needed to provide substantive and procedural details to ensure people’s access to information which are of public interest. It would be in keeping with transparency and full disclosure of government transactions.
The bill’s authors also said the measure was a concrete step toward public accountability and moral governance.
The mechanism for information access is sought to apply to all Bangsamoro government offices, including the parliament, ministries, departments, bureaus, commissions, boards, and other agencies, and government-owned or controlled corporations.
The proposal seeks to make available to the public government research data used as basis for policy decisions aside from records and documents of transactions and official acts.
The following pieces of information, the bill said, must be publicly disclosed:
- Audited financial statements
- Annual budget report
- Itemized monthly collections and disbursements
- Summary of income and expenditure
- Revenue targets and actual collections
- Statement of debt services
- Annual procurement plan and procurement list
- Bidding processes, deadlines and requirements
- Items to bid, bid results on civil works, goods and services
- Consulting services
- Supplemental procurement plan
Also subject to public disclosure are:
- Loans, grants, development assistance, technical assistance and programs from domestic and foreign financial institutions
- Development plans, investment programs, detailed engineering design, standard specifications, performance targets and accomplishments, manual of operations, programs and projects, and the implementation guidelines
- Executive issuances.
Under the measure, anyone interested to access information may just send a written request personally or via email and post.
Information shall be given free except for printing, photocopying and mailing costs.
Penalties are prescribed for failure by any government official or employee to attend to information requests within a specified period to respond.
The bill was introduced by parliament members Amir Mawallil and Baintan Adil-Ampatuan and co-authored by Laisa Alamia, Suharto Ambolodto, Don Loong, Rasol Ismael and Rasol Mitmug Jr.