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MAY 16, 2011

NR # 2406

Legislator seeks government access to information


on food and other basic commodities
The government will soon be required to disclose all transactions involving food and basic
commodities to ensure transparency and accountability.

Rep. Diosdado M. Arroyo (2nd District, Camarines Sur), author of House Bill 3603, said the
Filipino people have the right to information on all matters of public concern.

“Access to food is a fundamental human right and it is the government's responsibility to ensure
an adequate food supply for the people at affordable costs,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo said in order to reinforce and guarantee the right of the people to affordable and adequate
food supply, the government must be transparent in all its transactions involving food and basic
commodities.

“Government transparency in food information is a step towards reinforcing the right of the
people to affordable food and food security. The people have the right to know the factors that influence
food supply and prices,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo said access to official information, records, documents and papers pertaining to official
acts, processes, transactions and decisions by the government as well as government research and data
relative to food and food security would help ensure transparency and accountability.

“Transparency in all information on food and food security would help prevent collusion and
cartel, serve as a check against over-importation of basic commodities such as rice and corn, and aid in
collection of tariffs per metric ton,” Arroyo said.

Under the measure co-authored by Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2 nd District, Pampanga), all
government bodies specifically the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and
Industry (DTI) are required to grant written requests for information on food and food supply.

The bill also requires the DA to publish all relevant information on the importation of basic food
commodities, such as rice and corn, as well as maintain records and a database containing the said
information.

Any official or employee who denies anybody access to information and releases false and/or
misleading information shall be fined P40,000 and a three year jail term.

Moreover, any official or employee who fails to respond to a request due to negligence shall be
fined with not more than P20,000 and shall be imprisoned for one year, and for those who deliberately or
knowingly refuse to update any information his or her office is required to disclose shall be suspended
from the service for one year. (30) lvc