Two days before his first-ever State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte signs an executive order mandating full public disclosure of all offices under the executive branch.
According to Communications Secretary Martin Andanar in a press conference in Davao City, the chief executive signed his second EO on Saturday, July 23, at 7 pm – two days ahead of his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Secretary Andanar said that the draft of the EO had just been ready by the Presidential Legal Counsel on Saturday night and that there was “no plan of timing of signing it yesterday.”
The directive of the President covers “all government offices under the executive branch including, but not limited to, the national government and all its offices, departments, bureaus, offices and instrumentalities including government-owned and -controlled corporations, state universities and colleges.”
According to FOI order the Local government units are also encouraged to “observe and be guided by this order.”
The salient of the order specifically detailed the information “any records, documents, papers, reports, letters, contracts, minutes and transcripts of official meetings, map, books, photos, data, research materials, films, sound and video recording (magnetic or other tapes), electronic data computer store data or similar data or materials recorded stored or archived.”
EO 2 also reminds all government officials to file their Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) and make it available for public scrutiny, it can be remembered that the SALN filing was been raised amid the Impeachment Trial of Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The Freedom of Information Bill has been stagnant to pass as a law in previous administration; the bill aims to show transparency and accountability of the public officials before the public.
But while the signed EO is a landmark action in the long fight for FOI, advocates such as FOI Youth Initiative still push for its legislation in Congress since the measure only covers offices under the executive branch not the whole government.
“We hope that this new administration will continue to pursue the enactment of a complete Freedom of Information Law through legislation, with provisions requiring access to particular documents and data in all levels of government, penalties for public officials and employees who deny such access, and other components that will truly guarantee transparency, accountability, and people’s participation,” FOI Youth Initiative said in a statement.