SUMMARYDRAFT COMMITTEE REPORT
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (FOI)
The draft Committee Report on FOI is a consolidation of 12 pieces of legislationand proposals—nine bills and one resolution separately authored by 10senators, the Office of the President’s version, and the petition for indirectinitiative by citizens’ groups.
The approved third reading version of the Senate last Congress was usedsignificantly, the same being the product of a collegial consensus of the previousCongress. The Malacañang-backed version and the citizens’ Petitionwere substantially considered.
The recommendations made by various agencies—the Department of Justice,Civil Service Commission (CSC), Ombudsman, Department of NationalDefense, and the private sector including the academe, media outlets, union of journalists, and concerned citizens—are integrated and highly considered.
Highlights of the Draft Committee Report:
Every Filipino citizen has a right to be given access to any recordunder the control of the government, subject to exceptions enumeratedin this measure.
The title, “People’s Freedom of Information Act of 2013,” is homage tothe constitutional right of citizens to information on matters of publicconcern.
FOI covers the entire bureaucracy from the highest to lowest—this ishonoring the dictum, “public office is a public trust.” As animprovement, the report adopts the CSC recommendations that privatecontractors shall make their records available as regards their contractwith government, which is especially true with big-ticket projects.
It provides for exceptions (section 7):
information pertaining to foreign relations
law enforcement operations
those that pertain to the privacy of an individual
trade and economic secrets
privileged information as considered in judicial proceedings
those made in executive sessions of Congress
those that are covered by presidential privilege, and others.
Any person who wishes to obtain information shall submit a request tothe concerned government agency personally, by mail or email. Thegovernment agency shall comply as soon as practicable, within 15days upon receipt of said request. (section 12)
Data-keeping and archiving of relevant information are adopted justlike in the previous drafts. (section 17)g)The government shall use plain language in their communications,orders, instructions or requirements to implement the measure.(section 20)
While Republic Act 6713 provides that SALNs should be madeavailable to the public, the report (following deliberations in the lastCongress) makes mandatory the website posting of SALNs of thePresident, the Vice-President, members of the Cabinet, legislators,Supreme Court, justices, members of constitutional bodies, andgenerals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (section 8)