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Draft FOI manual: 166 things you can’t ask for

/ 04:51 AM August 28, 2016

MALACAÑANG’S draft freedom of information (FOI) manual lists 166 exceptions, including those involving national security, executive privilege and invasion of personal privacy.

The exceptions were based on recommendations of the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General, which prepared the inventory of materials that could be released to the public.

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Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar said the list would be reviewed by the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs.

The draft FOI manual details steps for those requesting information and what to do if the request is denied.

President Duterte issued the executive order on FOI to promote transparency in government.

Exceptions to FOI include matters that may put at risk national security and the state’s external and internal defense, as well as information on foreign affairs which may jeopardize diplomatic relations or weaken the government’s position in ongoing negotiations.

Also on the list is executive privilege involving information on the President’s appointing, pardoning and diplomatic powers. Minutes of decision-making and policy formulation meetings, which the President considers privileged, are also included.

Data that may compromise military or police operations and immigration controls and border security, or put witnesses in danger, are also excepted.

The draft states that “government officials cannot be compelled to prepare lists and detailed reports on how congressional funds were disbursed.”

School records, medical records, birth records, employment records, banking transactions, as well as personal and sensitive information concerning natural persons “resulting in invasion of privacy,” are also among the exceptions.

Statements of assets, liability and net worth of government officials may not be disclosed if the purpose is contrary to morals or public policy or if they are intended for any commercial purpose other than for public dissemination by news media.

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To protect businesses and entrepreneurs, trade secrets, confidential commercial and financial data, and business information gathered by government agencies on the operations, books and records of private corporations may also not be released.

Antimoney laundering concerns and related transaction reports are also on the list.

Also protected from public disclosure is information obtained by Congress in executive session and privileged communications, in legal proceedings or the Rules of Court.

Requests for information must be made in writing and should “reasonably describe” the information requested and the reason for the request.

If the request is denied or ignored, an appeal may be filed with the Presidential Communications Office’s appeals and review committee. The case may be brought to court if the response is unsatisfactory.

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TAGS: Department of Justice, FOI, FOI Bill, Freedom of Information, Martin Andanar, Office of the Solicitor General
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