Poe wants FOI law with ‘more access’ than restrictions
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe on Friday pledged to push for a Freedom of Information (FOI) law that provides “more access to information than restrictions.”
Poe, the former chairperson of the Senate committee on public information, made this commitment after a circular memorandum setting more restrictions on public disclosure was released by Malacanang on Thursday.
“While an executive order on Freedom of Information is laudable, our overarching goal is to institutionalize it through a law,” she said in a statement.
“We will continue to push for an FOI law — one that gives more access to information than restrictions,” she added.
The senator stressed that the people have a right to information on issues affecting them.
“Transparency is crucial to accountability. Without transparency, our people cannot access the information needed to participate in effective governance,” Poe said. “Every Filipino has a right to information of public concern. This is a sacred element in empowerment and democracy.”
Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva shared the same view as Poe and said that there is a need to deliberate the measure.
Poe and Villanueva have filed several measures in the past pushing for an FOI law.
“Transparency is a big factor in keeping the people’s faith in the government,” Villanueva in a separate statement said. “It is always a balancing act between upholding the right of the people to information on matters of public concern, and the State’s duty to safeguard the information that is, by its nature, confidential or sensitive, as declared by-laws, rules and regulations, and jurisprudence.”
“There is a need for Congress to open the discussion on the FOI bill to further set the parameters into the information that the public can gain access to,” he went on.
Memorandum Circular No. 5, signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin on March 17, updated former President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) No. 2 on FOI.
The expanded exceptions to the right to access information include details covered by executive privilege; privileged information relating to national security, defense of international relations; records of proceedings; and matters considered confidential under banking and finance laws and their amendatory laws.