MANILA, Philippines – If all goes according to planned, a directive for full public disclosure of records in the executive department will be President Rodrigo Duterte's second executive order (EO).
Duterte said he already has the draft of the Freedom of Information executive order which he aims to implement by the week of July 11.
"I have decided to hurry up the process. I have the copy now of the draft. This is the one executive order, Freedom of Information," he said during a speech aired on Thursday, July 7, by state-run channel PTV4.
The draft was submitted to him after that day's Cabinet meeting. Duterte said he would still have to "review it personally."
But he wants the EO implemented soon.
"This will be implemented, the very least, next week," he said.
Duterte read out the first line of the draft EO: "Operationalizing in the excutive branch the people’s consitutional right to information and the state of policies and full public disclosure and transparency in pubic service and providng guidelines therefore."
He reminded the public that the EO only covers his branch of government, the executive branch. This includes all departments represented in his Cabinet.
"I cannot bind the other two, Judiciary and Congress, because of the separation of power," he said.
The president added that "it's up to Congress" if they want to pass the Freedom of Information law.
The draft FOI EO was created after consultations with media groups like the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and The Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition, said Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
Andanar was part of the consultation held on Wednesday, July 6.
Opening up government records and transactions to the public was one of Duterte's campaign promises. He said he would be supportive of the FOI bill but would issue an FOI executive order even without the bill.
Former President Benigno Aquino III named FOI as one of his legislative priorities for 2015. He also endorsed it a day after his last State of the Nation Address in July last year. (READ: Why the Philippines needs a Freedom of Information law)
The Senate had already passed its version of the FOI bill on 3rd and final reading on March 10, 2014, but it continues to wait for the House version for concurrence up to this day. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.