FREEDOM of information (FOI) is being pushed in Baguio City.
An ordinance operationalizing freedom of information in the city, which was filed by Councilor Mylen Yaranon, was passed on first reading last week.
“Recognizing the importance of the people’s right to government information, and guided by the President’s Executive Order, the City Government of Baguio deems it necessary to provide a local mechanism for its offices where the people’s right to information is respected and upheld, subject to exceptions provided by law and jurisprudence,” Yaranon said.
The law if approved will cover all government offices under the City Government of Baguio and allow access to information to 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 policy development, in the custody of the local government.
Exceptions to the proposed ordinance is when the information falls under any of the exceptions enshrined in the Constitution and existing laws.
If passed, the City Legal Officer is directed to prepare a local inventory of FOI exceptions.
The FOI law will cover availability of Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth or SALN, and reminds all public officials of the city of their obligation to file and make their SALN available for scrutiny.
Yaranon cited in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order No. 2 entitled “Operationalizing in the Executive Branch the People’s Right to Information and the State Policies to Full Public Disclosure and Transparency in the Public Service and Providing Guidelines Therefore” but is limited in scope to government offices under the Executive Branch, and merely enjoins local government units to observe and be guided, thus, pushing the need for the local law to be crafted.
Under the local law, a denial of any request for access to information may be appealed to the city mayor and decided within 15 days.