No need to pass FOI bill, ex-judge says

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Thursday, May 8, 2014


THERE is no need to pass the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) since government is already obliged by law to provide information that will concern the public, a retired public official said.

Retired judge Jesus V. Quitain, who was a guest in Wednesday's edition of Club 888 Forum at Marco Polo Hotel Davao, said the 1987 Constitution mandates the government to disclose information that are of public interest.

Quitain said the FOI bill versions of Senators Loren Legarda, Jinggoy Estrada, Antonio Trillanes, Edgardo Angara and Bong Revilla will limit the public's access to information due to certain provisions.

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Some of these provisions are right to privacy, the good faith rule, and exemptions on the right of information on certain aspects of the government like national security.

"If this becomes a law, this will allow government officials to put up a shield. Instead of encouraging the public to gather information, they are prevented to do so," Quitain said.

He pointed out that the bill is no longer necessary since it is the government's responsibility to provide information that the public need.

Quitain said if the government agency would not provide the information needed by the public, they may file a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman.

The FOI bill is in the process of becoming a law in the Upper House.

The bill "would enable anyone to gain information to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as government research data used as a basis for policy development, regardless of its physical form or format at any government agency." (Martin Jee M. Capuno, Cathyrine N. Macrojon, Popsy Belle R. Ancheta-UIC interns)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 08, 2014.

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