House committee approves FOI bill

The Freedom of Information (FOI) bill has been approved by the House Committee on Public Information on February 15.

“We are working for the swift enactment into law of the FOI Bill, considering that this is one of the priorities of the Duterte administration. In record time, we have been able to consolidate 35 proposed measures. Today, we approved the FOI Bill at the committee level,” said committee chair Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers Party-list.

Following its passage in the committee level, Tinio hopes that the FOI bill will soon be deliberated in the plenary with the support of the House leadership.

The approved FOI reiterates the Constitution’s mandate to disclose the Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) of certain officials and enumerates public interest documents or records which government agencies must publish in their websites, such as contracts with the private sector and those which are budget-related, according to Tinio.

“The policy of full public disclosure is not fully fleshed out in our current laws. The FOI Bill seeks to address that gap,” he said.

In addition, the bill gives every citizen the right to seek and receive information from the government subject to exceptions. It also sets administrative and criminal sanctions for violations of the freedom of information.

A version of FOI is currently in effect in the executive branch of government through an executive order signed by President Rodrigo Duterte July last year. However, it was initially met with criticisms after it listed 166 exceptions.###

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