Andanar urges public to be checker of funds misuse thru FOI

MANILA � With all the national government agencies (NGAs) fully compliant with the Freedom of Information (FOI), Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar urged the public to be the examiner of misuse of public funds.

In a PCOO roadshow in Bicol, Andanar reported that aside from 100 percent FOI-compliant NGAs, 92 percent of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) along with 88 percent of the government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and 38 percent of the local water districts have submitted manuals as guides for the process of obtaining information from government.

"What do these numbers mean? When the work of government is open for examination by the public, the people become the primary participants in checking the misuse of funds, Andanar said in his speech at the Bicol State College of Applied Sciences and Technology (BISCAST) on Monday (March 25).

Consequently, because of the FOI executive order, we have likewise opened a direct communication highway for people-to-government discourse," he added.

Andanar said recent debates on the country's national budget can now be "vigorously examined" through the FOI.

He urged the local government units (LGUs) to empower citizens to participate in the decision-making process.

"We must enjoin individual citizens from the villages, whose common sense, logic, and opinions, help shape policies and laws. The knowledge of the FOI process bridges those in positions of power, with the source of that power from the people themselves," he said.

Andanar reiterated the importance of the FOI in combatting fake news, particularly in social media.

"Freedom of Information cleans the media environment from the pollution that is often spread through social networking and other application derivatives of the internet. Freedom of Information is the awareness that we are all the cause and consequences of our actions," he said.

A ceremonial signing of a memorandum of understanding for the implementation of the FOI Program in schools was also held during the event, led by Andanar and BISCAST officer-in-charge, Dr. Isidro R. Bola.

Also part of the roadshow were discussions led by several key speakers from PCOO, including Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, Executive Director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS); and, Assistant Secretary Kristian R. Ablan, FOI Philippines Program Director.

Egco discussed plans of institutionalizing the PTFoMS and transforming it into a commission.

Living up to his election promise to promote transparency and fight corruption, President Rodrigo Duterte created the FOI program through Executive Order No. 2 he signed less than a month after his inauguration as the country's 16th President in June 2016.

The EO mandates all government offices under the Executive Branch, national government and all its offices, departments, bureaus, offices and instrumentalities, including GOCCs, SUCs, and local government units to observe full disclosure and transparency in the public service. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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