MANILA—The Freedom of Information (FOI) bill hurdled the committee level at the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The House Committee on Public Information chaired by ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio Tinio approved the substitute bill consolidating 35 proposed measures.
“We are working for the swift enactment into law of the FOI Bill, considering that this is one of the priorities of the Duterte administration,” said Tinio.
“We hope that, with the support of the House leadership, we will soon be able to take up the FOI bill in plenary,” Tinio added.
The FOI bill embodies the two aspects of the right to information as mandated by the 1987 Constitution, namely, full public disclosure and citizens’ access to information.
The approved measure reiterates the Constitution’s mandate to disclose the Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth of certain officials.
Public interest documents or records, such as contracts with the private sector and those which are budget-related, are required to be published by government agencies in their websites.
“The policy of full public disclosure is not fully fleshed out in our current laws. The FOI bill seeks to address that gap,” said Tinio.
The bill also mandates every citizen’s right to ask for and receive information from government, subject only to a limited number of exceptions.
The bill also sets the procedure of requesting for access to information and documents up to appeal in case of denial.
Administrative and criminal liabilities for violation of the right to information will also be put in place through this measure.