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PCOO tapped to ensure compliance with FoI

The government’s top communications office has been tapped to ensure that agencies within the Executive branch are complying with President Duterte’s Freedom of Information policy.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea has issued Memorandum Order No. 10 designating the Presidential Communications Operations Office as lead agency to ensure the “successful implementation of the FoI program” in the Executive branch.

“Executive Order No. 1 operationalized the Freedom of Information in the Executive branch, ensuring the effective exercise of every Filipino’s right to access to information,” Medialdea wrote in Memorandum Order No. 10.

“There is a need to continuously monitor the implementation of EO No. 2 across all government agencies in the Executive branch. The designation of a lead agency shall ensure the successful implementation of the FoI program,” he added.

Under MO 10, the PCOO led by Secretary Martin Andanar must oversee implementation of the FOI initiatives, including the electronic FoI, and monitor compliance.

It shall also develop programs to enhance the capacity of government agencies to implement the FoI program as well as facilitate capacity and institutional building programs for these offices.

Duterte signed Executive Order No. 2 last July mandating the full public disclosure of information in offices under the Executive branch to promote transparency and accountability.

It has been regarded as one of the early accomplishments of the Duterte administration since the controversial FoI was never been passed by previous administrations.

The public can now request for access to government records via the official FoI website or offices within the Executive branch. The government listed nine exemptions on the release of information such as those related to national security, executive privilege, and invasion of privacy.

There have been 341 requests for information from various agencies through the FoI website as of January 4. Thirty seven have been granted while 67 were denied.

Of the 17 agencies covered by the site, the Department of Health, Philippine Statistics Authority, and the Department of Transportation have the highest number of requests for information. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)