AFTER weeks of delay, President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an the much-anticipated executive order (EO) on freedom of information (FOI).
Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar said the President inked the EO entitled "Operationalizing in the executive branch the people's constitutional right to information and the state policies of full public disclosure and transparency in the public service and providing guidelines therefor" on Saturday.
"Every Filipino shall have access to information, official records, public records and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for public development," the EO said.
The President ordered the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General to prepare an inventory of the information, which falls under the "exceptions" and to submit the same to his office within 30 calendar days from the date of the effectivity of the order.
"Access to information shall be denied when the information falls under any of the exceptions enshrined in the Constitution, existing law or jurisprudence," the Order said.
The OP shall immediately circulate the inventory of exceptions for the guidance of all government offices and instrumentalities covered by the Order and the general public.
Specifically covered by the EO under the executive branch are the national government and all its offices, departments, bureaus, offices, and instrumentalities, including government-owned and controlled corporations, and state universities and colleges.
Duterte encouraged the local government units to observe and be guided by the Order.
In processing the request for information, offices should comply "as soon as practicable" but not exceeding 15 working days from the receipt. The response refers to the decision of the office concerned to grant or deny access to information requested.
The EO also reminded all public officials to file and make available for scrutiny their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth in accordance with existing laws, rules and regulations, and the spirit and letter of the Order.
Failure to comply with the provisions of the Order may be a ground for administrative and disciplinary sanctions against any erring public officer or employee as provided under existing laws or regulations, the EO said. (SDR/Sunnex)