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FOI Policy Briefing Paper

FOI Policy Briefing Paper

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Published by: Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility on Jan 04, 2012
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11/23/2012

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During the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility’s (CMFR) Policy Forum on Free-
dom of Information (FOI), many participants were concerned with the number of exceptions
in the draft bills.

The consensus during the forum was the Philippines needs an FOI Act (FOIA) as an effective
tool to expose wrongdoing in the government. But the participants agreed that the principle
of maximum disclosure should be observed, and limitations and exceptions to access nar-
rowly defined and strictly construed.

For the practice to be guaranteed, some of the participants asked that the procedure for ac-
cess be shortened and no fees charged for the information requested.

Other participants suggested the clarification of the role of the Information Commission (IC).

Bayan Muna Party List sectoral representative Teodoro “Teddy” Casiño, author of one ver-
sion of the FOI bill, said an additional commission will create another “layer in government
bureaucracy” and should be reviewed.

Lawyer Theodore “Ted” Te of the Free Legal Assistance Group agreed, but said that if an IC
is unavoidable, its powers should not overlap with those of established commissions. He
added that the appointment of the members of the IC should be “guided by inputs from civil
society organizations and FOI advocates” to help assure its independence.

CMFR and the participants agreed that public vigilance was crucial. They asked FOI advo-
cates to review the coalition’s public information and awareness campaign on the issue. One
participant suggested translating the different versions of the bill or any related material into
several languages to make it accessible to ordinary folk.

The FOI issue is not only relevant to the media but more for the benefit of the citizens. Also
important to note, the longer term implication of having an FOI law. The advocacy does not
stop with the passage of the bill.

A Policy Briefng Paper: Freedom of Information

38

Speakers

Carolyn O. Arguillas

Editor

MindaNews

Melinda Quintos de Jesus

Executive Director

Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR)

Nepomuceno Malaluan

Co-convenor

Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition

Malou Mangahas

Executive Director

Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

Ronald U. Mendoza

Executive Director

Asian Institute of Management Policy Center

Manuel L. Quezon III

Undersecretary

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office

Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III

Representative

4th

District, Quezon
House of Representatives

Luis V. Teodoro

Deputy Director

CMFR

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