47% of online FOI requests ‘successfully’ processed: Andanar

MANILA Around 47 percent of 18,036 online requests from the public to get access of information from 447 agencies under the executive branch have been "successfully facilitated and processed", according to the data from the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

During the Freedom of Information (FOI) Awards ceremony in Makati City on Thursday, PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar touted the Duterte administration's transparency by making offices under the Office of the President available for public scrutiny.

(Around) 18,036 requests were lodged on the e-FOI (electronic FOI) portal, the PCOO chief said in his opening remarks.

Out of these online requests to 447 participating government agencies, 47% had been successfully facilitated and processed. This means, out of every 10 FOI requests, half are disclosed to the public, he added.

On July 23, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) 2 on FOI as part of his campaign promise to allow Filipinos to obtain documents and records from public offices in a bid to promote transparency in the government under his leadership.

Under the EO, a Filipino citizen can request any information about the government transactions and operations by presenting proof of education to concerned state office or lodging queries online through official website www.foi.gov.ph.

An FOI request can be made before all government offices under the executive branch, including government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs), and state universities and colleges (SUCs).

Requesting parties can have access to information, official records, public records, and documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development.

Andanar noted that on top of the 18,036 requests made through the e-FOI portal, there are also 29,490 paper-based requests recorded by a total of 4,107 designated FOI receiving offices across all government offices.

He said a total of 613 national government agencies, GOCCs, SUCs, and local water districts have complied with FOI Manual submissions this year, as of September 30, slightly higher than the 529 recorded in 2018.

It has been three years since President Rodrigo Roa Duterte carried out his transparency initiative through the signing of the Executive Order no. 2, signed 2016. At that time, I was also honored to champion the Freedom of Information Program in government agencies, said Andanar, whose agency is tasked to lead the implementation of the EO on FOI.

We are working hard with FOI officers to continually increase the FOI success rate next year, he added.

Increased public awareness sought

Andanar said the PCOO, through FOI-Project Management Office (FOI-PMO), has been exhausting all efforts to raise awareness on the current administration's goal of promoting transparency and full public disclosure of information.

He acknowledged the need for the public's participation, emphasizing that the government and its people are so interdependent that equilibrium, as far as practicable, must be a paramount consideration in its relationship.

The challenge of implementing a new program and embedding a new culture in public governance required pure dedication, hard work, and cooperation. The accomplishment of the FOI Program weaves government agencies in order to partner and work together for the enhancement of public service in delivering government information, Andanar said.

The government, however unified, cannot achieve a great cause without citizen participation. The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), through the Freedom of Information � Project Management Office (FOI-PMO), recognizes the powerful role of the citizenry for nation-building, he added.

Call for Congress to pass FOI bill renewed

Duterte's EO does not cover the legislature and the judiciary, and even local government units.

However, a legislative measure giving Filipinos' access to official documents and transactions in all branches of government has yet to be passed.

This prompted Andanar to renew the Duterte government's call for Congress to approve an FOI bill.

Andanar expressed optimism that lawmakers would push for the passage of the proposed FOI law.

Freedom of Information, as meaningfully espoused by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, in order to be an effective tool for governance, must be implemented across the bureaucracy: the executive, legislature, judiciary, including the local government units, he said.

I still remain hopeful that our lawmakers will finally heed the call of the FOI-Project Management Office, the Civil Society Organizations, and the people, and pass the FOI Law, Andanar added. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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