MANILA, Philippines – Here are some things you need to know about the proposed version of the Freedom of Information bill, sent by Malacañang to the House of Representatives on Thursday.
This FAQ is based on the “Q & A” from www.gov.ph/foi.
Who can request for information, and what can be requested? Anyone who is a Filipino citizen can ask information about official acts, transactions, decisions, and government research data from all government agencies in all branches of government.
What information shall be kept confidential by the government? However, certain information, such as “Secret” documents, minutes of executive sessions, and sensitive information (such as defense and intelligence information) shall be excluded and will remain classified. Details are under Section 6 of the bill.
What’s different in the Palace version of the bill? The Palace version of the FOI bill has the following:
- Expanded access to financial information, such as Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs), and other kinds of information regarding government transactions
- Collation of legislative acts, executive and administrative orders, proclamations, and similar information in one website, the Official Gazette
- Government agencies will be asked to translate information in major Filipino languages
- All agencies and entities will have a “Freedom of Information Manual” to guide officials, employees, and the public
How will a Filipino citizen ask for information? These are the basic steps in requesting information, based on the bill:
- STEP 1 Requesting party should submit a request for information to the government agency concerned, and the receiving agency shall indicate when the request was received.
- STEP 2 The agency must respond to the request within 15 days of receipt, and notify if the request has been granted or not. They should also notify the requesting person if there is an extension, and explain why.
- STEP 3 If granted, the person requesting the information shall be notified, and will have to pay the required feeds. If not, they should be notfied formally why the request was not granted, or it will be considered “denial of request.”
- STEP 4 If the request is not granted, the requesting party can appeal.
The full text of the bill can be found below, courtesy of the Official Gazette at www.gov.ph/foi/.