MANILA – Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Sunday commended President Rodrigo Duterte on the signing of the landmark Executive Order on Freedom of Information for the executive branch of government as he pushed for a similar law for the rest in public service.
“Pinupuri natin si Pangulong Duterte sa kanyang pagtaguyod ng karapatan sa impormasyon sa pamamagitan ng Executive Order na ito. Unang hakbang ito para sa isang mas transparent na pamumuno (We commend President Duterte on his commitment to uphold the constitutional right of our people to information through his Executive Order. It is a first step on our vision of a more transparent government),” Pangilinan said.
“Pero hindi pa tapos ang ating trabaho. Ang ehekutibo lamang ang sakop ng Executive Order. Kailangan pa natin ng batas sa Freedom of Information na sakop ang lahat ng antas ng burukrasya (However, our job is not yet complete. The Executive Order covers only the executive branch. There is still a need for a Freedom of Information legislation so that we can ensure transparency at all levels of the bureaucracy),” he added.
Only two days before his State of the Nation Address, President Duterte on Saturday evening signed the EO on FOI. The signing was announced Sunday.
The EO orders full public disclosure of all official and public records and information by all offices under the executive branch including government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs), state colleges and universities, and local government units.
In 2012, Pangilinan was among the senators who voted in favor of the FOI bill, which eventually passed its third and final reading in the Senate but did not pass at the bicameral level.
“We have always been supportive of a law on FOI. Now, we are re-filing it for the 17th Congress,” Pangilinan said.
The FOI bill has long been pending in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The proposed measure shall grant full public disclosure by all branches of government of all public documents and information pertaining to official transactions, decisions, contracts, appointments, and policies involving public interest except for information relating to matters of national security that may endanger the country.
“Susi ang bukas at malayang kaalaman para sa isang bayang may kasaysayan ng mga corrupt na kawani at opisyal ng pamahalaan. Kailangan natin ang transparency para panagutin sila sa kanilang mga ginagawa. Kapag ito ay ating nakamit, makakamit din ng lahat ng kawani ng pamahalaan ang tiwala ng mamamayan. (Transparency is key in a country with a history of corrupt government officials. We need transparency to hold our officials more accountable to their actions. Once we achieve that, public servants will always have the trust of the people),” Pangilinan said.
The Freedom of Information Act is part of Pangilinan’s priority bills for the 17th Congress including pro-farmer and pro-fishers bills such as the Sagip Saka, Coco Levy Trust Fund, and the creation of a Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, among others.