24 July 2016
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar formally announced in a press conference at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte had signed the Executive Order on Freedom of Information (FOI).
“At 7 pm, 23 July 2016, in Davao City, on the 25th day of office as President of the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the corner stone, Executive Order called the Freedom of Information,” Secretary Andanar said.
The newly signed E.O. will operationalize the people’s constitutional right to information and state policies of full public disclosure and transparency in the public service. This encompasses access to information, official records, public records, papers, and documents of official acts, transactions or decisions, and the government research data.
The EO covers all the government offices under the Executive Branch, including but not limited to the national government and all its offices, and instrumentalities. These include the government-owned or -controlled corporations, and state universities and colleges. The local government units (LGUs) are also urged to adhere to the Order.
The FOI also obliges public officials to file their Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) for disclosure and scrutiny.
Moreover, it is indicated in the FOI that access to information shall be denied when the information is in the exceptions enshrined in the Constitution, existing laws and jurisprudence. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) will be preparing an inventory of these exceptions that shall be submitted to the Office of the President within 30 days of its effectivity.
Within 120 days from the effectivity of the Order, each government office shall prepare its own People’s FOI Manual. According to Section 8 of the Order, the manual shall contain details on the location and contact information of the head, provincial, and field offices, and other established places where the public can obtain information or submit requests, the person of the office responsible for receiving requests for information, the procedure for filing and processing of request, the standard forms for the submission of requests and for the proper acknowledgment of requests, the process of the disposition of requests, the procedure for the administrative appeal of any denial for the access of information, and the schedule of the applicable fees.