By Chito Chavez
With freedom of information fully in place, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) issued a joint memorandum circular encouraging local government units (LGUs) to operationalize the people’s right to information, full public disclosure of state policies and transparency in public service.
The DILG and PCOO urged the LGUs to adopt a scheme of facilitating public access to information at their level. They were also asked to enact an ordinance or issuing a local chief executive’s order on freedom of information (FOI).
As of June 2018, the country has 81 provinces, 245 cities, 1,489 municipalities and 42,044 barangays.
DILG officer-in-charge (OIC) Eduardo M. Año said the DILG shares the vision of President Duterte and PCOO in promoting transparency in public service to erase suspicion of illicit activities and to unearth corrupt activities in the LGUs.
“Let us be a part of the movement to eliminate corruption at the local level. Freedom to access to information in the LGUs is freedom from corruption,” said Año.
Año explained that with the disclosure of information concerning the undertakings of the local government, a potent check and balance system can be established to empower the people and promoting participatory governance.
“If a local government has nothing to hide, opening up local information for public consumption would not be an issue,” he added.
FOI gives access to information, official records and public records and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development.
The FOI Executive Order was the first EO signed by President Duterte as soon as he assumed office in July 2016.
In the said joint memorandum signed by Año and PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar, the local chief executives (LCEs) were encouraged to enact an ordinance or an executive order containing the salient provisions of Executive Order No. 2, s. 2016.
Such ordinance or local executive order may contain procedures in filing and processing of requests for access to information; inventory of exceptions; remedies in case of denial of request; fees; protection of privacy; and keeping of records, among others.
According to Año, the joint memorandum also states that LGUs are encouraged to adopt the “disclose to one, disclose to all” policy for the information released through the observance of FOI and exercise proactive disclosure of information not included in their inventory of exceptions.
LCEs are also reminded of their responsibility to file and make available for scrutiny, their Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth in accordance with the laws, rules, and regulations.
He added the LGUs are encouraged to enroll in PCOO’s electronic FOI platform at www.foi.gov.ph to ensure that the public will have ease and convenience in requesting for information.
The DILG’s Bureau of Local Government Supervision will monitor FOI-compliant LGUs that have enacted FOI ordinances or local executive orders.