Freedom of information

Cebu City mayor signs FOI ordinance

Lorraine Ecarma
Cebu City mayor signs FOI ordinance

PHOTO FINISH. Cebu City Mike Rama signs on July 28, 2022 the Visayas Queen City's Freedom of Information ordinance, which the council passed a week before the June 30 handover to a new set of local legislators elected in the May 2022 polls.

Cebu City News and Information

Mayor Mike Rama says that with the enactment of the measure, the city can proudly celebrate its annual Press Freedom week in September

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Mayor Mike Rama signed on Thursday, July 28, the Freedom of Information (FOI) ordinance of the Visayas’ Queen City.

The 15th Sangguniang Panlungsod or city council approved Ordinance No. 2647 or the FOI Ordinance of 2019 on June 22, 2022 – just a little over a week before the June 30 handover to a new council elected in the May 2022 polls.

Then-councilor and now Cebu City-South district representative Eduardo Rama Jr. filed the bill in 2019.

Rama, the councilor’s uncle, was then vice mayor of Cebu City. He took over the city when mayor Eduardo Labella died on November 19, 2021.

The mayor did not exercise his veto powers during the 10-day waiting period for approved ordinances.

During signing rites, Rama said the timing of the ordinance’s passage would give Cebu City great pride as it celebrates Press Freedom week in September.

“That is why I am proud as your mayor that it has occurred under my incumbency,” Rama said in a video live streamed by the Cebu City Government Facebook page. 

Under the FOI Ordinance of 2019, “every Filipino” can request access to all acts, transactions, and decisions made by offices under the Cebu City government.

The ordinance also mandates the city government to proactively disclose official records and information to the public, and install FOI officers in every branch or office.

The FOI focal person will oversee the implementation of the ordinance. An FOI receiving officer will be assigned for the actual processing of requests.

The FOI ordinance also penalizes arbitrary refusal of any of the city’s employees to comply with its provisions. Punishment ranges from simple reprimand to dismissal from service. 

The Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) in a statement applauded Rama for signing the ordinance.

“It is another step toward institutionalizing access to information, started with President Duterte’s executive order of July 23, 2016 that ‘operationalized’ access to information in the executive branch,” said the statement signed by CPCP executive director Pachico Seares.

What went before

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story reported that Labella vetoed the ordinance. This has been corrected.

The city’s 14th Sanggunian had also passed a similar ordinance, filed by then-councilor Jose Daluz III. But then-mayor Tomas Osmeña vetoed the measure in 2017.

The 15th council twice deferred the final deliberation and third reading of the measure, on December 18,  2019, and January 8, 2020.

On January 22, 2020, Seares requested the council to include the organization’s recommendations in the proposed ordinance.

Work on the measure stalled until the CPCP on June 1, 2022, appealed to the Cebu City Council to approve the FOI ordinance before the end of its term on June 30.

CCPC said it coursed the appeal through the ordinance’s main author.

“It has been a painfully slow program for FOI, thus the local media’s applause for each step taken on the road to better access, which the ordinance promises to provide, subject only to valid exceptions or limitations provided by the Constitution and laws and ordinance,” the CCPC said.


The ordinance states that anyone who wishes to access public documents or data from any city government office shall submit a written request to the office’s freedom of information receiving officer.

The office recipient of the request has a maximum of 15 days to act on the requested information. 

This period may be extended to 20 days if the request requires a more thorough search.

The ordinance, however, forbids the release of information when it is “contrary to laws, existing rules and regulations” or when it comes under the city’s inventory of exceptions.

The city legal officer is tasked to finalize the list of exceptions.

The head of the concerned office shall decide if the exceptions apply to any request.

The denial of a request is still appealable to a “person or office” higher in authority, all the way up to the city mayor in the final appeal.

The FOI adopts Executive Order No. 2, issued in 2016 by then-president Rodrigo Duterte.

Because the EO’s scope was limited to executive agencies, its adoption was discretionary upon local government units. – with a report from John Sitchon/

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