“Better late than never”
President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday July 23 has signed Executive Order on Freedom of Information. In a report by Rappler.com, Duterte is reported to have signed his second EO mandating “mandating full public disclosure of all offices under the executive branch”.
Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar said the EO will cover “all government offices under the executive branch including, but not limited to, the national government and all its offices, departments, bureaus, officers and instrumentalities including government owned and controlled corporations (GOCC), state universities and colleges”.
The public are now given access to information under the Executive branch which will include “any records, documents, papers, reports, letters, contracts, minutes and transcripts of official meetings, map, books, photos, data, research materials, films, sound and video recording (magnetic or other tapes), electronic data computer store data or similar data or materials recorded stored or archived,” except information that “falls under any of the exception enshrined in the constitution, existing law or jurisprudence” which will be determined by the Department of Justice and Solicitor General.
It can be remember that during the campaign President Duterte promised to sign an EO on the Freedom of Information on his day 1 in office. It didn’t happen in the 1st day but PCO chief said it will happen on the first week of Duterte administration but still didn’t happen.
Malacanang then explained why the EO has been delayed for week saying the process is yet to be complete by it can be expected before the President’s 1st SONA
And fortunately after weeks of delay, it was already signed by the President. A big step in instilling transparency in the government (Executive for now) which should have been done way before. Now that there’s already the EO on the FOI, the next big thing should be passing of the Freedom of Information Bill which will cover all 3 branches of governments. FOI has been in congress for quite sometime and with this development in the Executive branch, here’s to hoping the congress will follow suit and pass now the Freedom of Information Bill.