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NR # 3286B
Another FOI bill filed in Congress
Congressional support for the enactment of a Freedom of Information (FOI) law during the 16 th Congress continues to gain ground at the House of Representatives with the filing of another such proposal. Rep. us !am"unting (#nd $istrict% &ara'a(ue Cit)) filed House *ill +,,- or the proposed .&eople/s Freedom of Information 0ct of #,1+%1 sa)ing the people/s access to information held ") government is necessar) in the e2ercise of the people/s right to effective and reasona"le participation at all levels of decision3ma4ing affecting the nation. 5arlier% 6pea4er Feliciano *elmonte% 7r. assured that during his term% the countr) will have an FOI law. !am"unting% a first3term lawma4er% said the latest controvers) regarding the &riorit) $evelopment 0ssistance Fund (&$0F) that has sha4en the nation pushed the people "ac4 to the streets and cried their sentiment% anger and unprecedented opinion against the institution. .Indeed% the por43"arrel scam calls upon us legislators to respond to the apprehension of the people in the proper dis"ursement of pu"lic funds through a transparent mechanism. Hence% ena"ling the people to e2ercise their right to information will assure a vigilant pu"lic against unscrupulous government officials from committing atrocit) against the integrit) of our nation. 8oreover% this will stand as a staunch reminder to all government officials and emplo)ees of their dut) to the people as well as their o"ligation to alwa)s act for the "enefit of the people%1 !am"unting said. !am"unting e2plained that the right of the people to information held ") government should not onl) "e recogni9ed "ut should "e accessi"le through the adoption and implementation of a polic) of full pu"lic disclosure of all its transactions. !he former vice ma)or of &ara'a(ue Cit) said .&u"lic office is a pu"lic trust1 is the ver) principle declared in the Constitution that should em"od) each pu"lic officer and each government emplo)ee. .0s pu"lic servants% we are entrusted with power "ut endowed with the responsi"ilit) to "e accounta"le at all times to the people whom we owe our ver) title and position. Furthermore% as a 6tate principle% it is with the people whom our sovereignt) resides% and thus% all government authorit) emanates from them. Clearl)% the people are our "oss : and we are answera"le to them. !he FOI "ill has long "een overdue and now it is timel) for its passage into law%1 !am"unting said. House *ill +,,- provides it is the declared polic) of the 6tate to recogni9e the right of the people to information on matters of pu"lic concern and adopts and implements a polic) of full pu"lic disclosure of all its transactions involving pu"lic interest% su";ect to the procedures and limitations provided ") the proposed 0ct. !his right is meant to enhance the significant and widening role of the citi9enr) in governmental decision3ma4ing as well as in chec4ing a"use in government. It further provides that pu"lic officials and emplo)ees in the performance of their duties under the proposed 0ct% as well as citi9ens in the e2ercise of their rights under the "ill% shall act with ;ustice% give ever)one his or her due% and o"serve honest) and good faith. &u"lic officials and emplo)ees as well as citi9ens hall endeavor to handle information 4ept or o"tained under this 0ct with due care% to the end that inaccuracies and distortions are avoided. !he proposed 0ct shall cover all government agencies. overnment agenc) or agencies shall include the e2ecutive% legislative and ;udicial "ranches as well as constitutional "odies of the Repu"lic of the
&hilippine% including "ut not limited to the national government and all its agencies% departments% "ureaus% offices and instrumentalities% constitutional commissions and constitutionall) mandated "odies% local governments and all their agencies% regulator) agencies% chartered institutions% government3owned or controlled corporations% including wholl)3owned or controlled su"sidiaries% government financial institutions% state universities and colleges% the 0rmed Forces of the &hilippines% the &hilippine <ational &olice% all offices in the Congress of the &hilippines including the offices of 6enators and Representatives% the 6upreme Court and all lower courts esta"lished ") law. &u"lic service contractors or an) other entit) shall ma4e their records availa"le to the pu"lic insofar as the) are related to an) contract or transactions that the) have with the government or government agencies% provided% that such contracts or transactions are of the highest pu"lic interest ") reason of the amounts involved and the impact of the transaction to the pu"lic. !he "ill defines .Information1 as an) record% document% paper% report% letter% contract% minutes% transcript% map% "oo4% photograph% film% sound and video recording% magnetic or other tape% electronic data% computer stored data% or an) other li4e or similar material recorded% stored or archived in whatever form or format% which= (i) are made or received ")% or 4ept under the control or custod) of% an) government agenc) pursuant to law% e2ecutive order% rules and regulations% ordinance% or in connection with the performance or transaction of official "usiness ") an) government agenc) or official> (ii) are part of official or pu"lic records in the custod) of government agencies or officials> (iii) record% evidence% esta"lish% confirm% support% ;ustif)% or e2plain official acts% transactions or decisions of government agencies or officials> or (iv) are part of research data% whether raw% collated or processed% in the custod) of the government and used in formulating government policies> It provides that ever) person who is a Filipino citi9en has a right to and shall% on re(uest% "e given access to an) information under the control of a government agenc)% regardless of the ph)sical form or format in which these are contained% su";ect onl) to the e2ceptions provided in the "ill. !here shall "e a legal presumption in favor of access to information. 0ccordingl)% government agencies shall have the "urden of proving that the information re(uested is e2empted from disclosure ") the proposed 0ct. 0n) person who wishes to o"tain information shall su"mit% free of charge% a re(uest to the government agenc) concerned personall)% ") mail% or through electronic means. 0 person who is una"le% "ecause of illiterac) or disa"ilit)% to ma4e a written re(uest ma) ma4e an oral re(uest% and the pu"lic official who receives the oral re(uest shall reduce it to writing and give a cop) thereof to the person who made the re(uest% the "ill provides. If the government agenc) decides to den) the re(uest% in whole or in part% it shall% as soon as practica"le and in an) case within 1? da)s from the receipt of the re(uest% notif) the re(uester of the denial in writing or through electronic means. !he notice shall indicate the name% ran4% title or position of the person ma4ing the denial% clearl) set forth the ground@s and circumstances on which the denial is "ased% and indicate availa"le rights of reconsideration or appeal. !he "ill also provides for the following= e2ceptions on access to information> remedies in cases of denial of information re(uest> mandator) disclosure ") national officials of their 6tatement of 0ssets% Aia"ilities% and <et Borth (60A<) on an annual "asis in their official we"sites> mandator) uploading ") all agencies of all "ranches of government on their we"sites a register of the pu"lic interest transactions% documents or records% which shall "e updated monthl)> compliant we"sites of all government agencies within two )ears of effectivit) of the proposed 0ct> preparation and regular updating ") all government agencies of a &eople/s Freedom of Information (FOI) 8anual> administrative lia"ilit)> and criminal lia"ilit). (+,) rbb
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