Palace to hackers: Don't touch Open Data portal
MANILA, Philippines - Days after the government launched an Open Data website that makes data accessible to the public, the Palace asked hackers not to deface the transparency initiative.
"We would like to ask those who would like to deface this Open Data [website]," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press breifing on Monday, January 20.
"Open Data is your data. This is the public’s data about you, so I don’t think it’s in the interest of the Filipinos to damage the information that we have. This instrument is intended to make more intelligent and more participative and to make the Filipino public partners in governance," he added.
The Open Data portal with Open Government Data-Philippines is an online platform launched by the government last week to allow more access to information. The government hailed it as a significant transparency initiative, but many said the portal is not enough and continued to demand for the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.
The Palace has refused to certify the bill as urgent.
Not a substitute
Lacierda said foreign reaction to the Philippines' initiative is positive, and that it is only locally that people have reacted negatively. He also emphasized that the portal "is not a substitute for FOI."
"Open Data is supply-driven, FOI is demand-driven. At some point, they may intersect so that some of the questions that FOI advocates might be asking will be uploaded, and you don’t need to ask, but at some point there might be still questions," he said.
"So is it something that is intended to [replace FOI]? No, because this is under the principle of the public’s access to information. So this is not meant to substitute and, in fact, in experiences abroad – for instance, in UK and the USA – even if they have FOI laws already, there is such a big demand also for Open Data."
He also insisted the government has "no issue on being open, being transparent" and gave assurances none of the data the government will post will be manipulated.
Lacierda explained President Benigno Aquino III has refused to certify the bill as urgent because he is "very circumspect in the use of his powers to declare a certain bill urgent."
"He wants to follow it according to what the Constitution intends an urgent bill to be certified," he said.
Lacierda added, the FOI "would have to deal also with the concerns of the legislative branch."
"Some legislators have concerns, so those concerns have to be threshed out. So we’re not afraid of any secrets. In fact, all the issues, we release, and we’re very open about it," he said.
While the government is insistent that it is complying with the constitutional provisions on access to information, the public clamor for the FOI bill continues to increase especially in the wake of the pork barrel scam that was exposed in 2013, one of the country's biggest corruption scandals.
In a survey released last week, 88% of respondents of a Social Weather Stations (SWS) corruption survey said a strong FOI law will be key to fighting corruption. – Rappler.com