FOI advocates press Palace on promised EO
Malacañang executives on Wednesday held a consultation meeting with freedom of information (FOI) advocates who want to make sure that the President’s impending executive order (EO) to put the principle in effect should actually lead to the faster release of government data to the public.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea met with Nepomuceno Malaluan, convenor of the Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition, and Malou Mangahas of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.
Following the consultation, Andanar said the executive order on FOI may be ready by tonight. He posted a picture of the meeting on his Twitter account.
Malaluan said the FOI advocates offered suggestions on what could be included in the EO which is currently being drafted.
One key point for the FOI advocates is that the transparency measure should really have practical application for ordinary people and would lead to swifter release of information. Requests for information should not be easily denied, said Malaluan.
“There should be a clear directive to the agencies to provide information within a definite time period, and any denial should have a clear basis,” he said in a phone interview.
“In case there is such a denial, there should be an opportunity to appeal,” he added.
In an earlier statement, FOI advocates said the executive order on FOI should clarify the provision in the code of ethics for public officials that requires a 15-day response to requests. It should mean that the response should be the actual release of the requested information, they said.
Malaluan also said that in drafting the FOI order that would cover agencies in the executive branch, “balancing” should be the operative word. The government is expected to keep certain sensitive information under wraps.
Palace officials did not present a copy of the draft executive order on the FOI during the meeting on Wednesday.
But Malaluan said the FOI advocates were supportive of the President’s plan to issue an EO that will pave the way for a more transparent government.
“It’s a big step that the new administration will provide the direction to the executive branch and all agencies to give a clear signal that it upholds the right of the people to be informed,” he said.
But their support will also depend on the final EO to be handed down.
He said they were working with the government on the framework in good faith.
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