CHR hopes freedom of information policy is retained by incoming administration

Published May 24, 2022, 12:10 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

Commission on Human Rights (CHR)

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has welcomed the recommendation to the incoming administration for the retention of President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 2 on Freedom of Information (FOI) policy.

CHR Executive Director Jacqueline Ann de Guia said the FOI is “imperative” in the fulfillment of citizens’ rights.

The retention of FOI was recommended by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

Undersecretary Kristian R. Ablan, acting deputy presidential spokesperson, said in an interview that they wish the next administration will continue the Freedom of Information program, which acts as a transparency mechanism of the Executive branch.

The Presidential Communications Group (PCG) — which is composed of agencies such as the Philippine Information Agency, Philippine News Agency, Radio Philippines Network, People’s Television Network, and the Bureau Communications Office, among others — have already prepared their transition report for the incoming officials for endorsement.

While Section 7, Article III of the Constitution states that citizens can have access to “official 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” on all subjects and issues of public concern, the CHR lamented that there is a lack of enabling legislation to exercise this right.

“The Commission joins the PCOO in the endorsement of this policy to the next administration. Freedom of information, as a demonstration of modern democracy, is imperative in the fulfillment of consonant rights — freedom of speech, of expression, and of the press,” De Guia, a lawyer, said.

“CHR reminds our leaders that public trust is the cornerstone of our democracy,” she stressed.

“We look forward to the continued crafting of measures that further government transparency. A push for this directly corresponds to countering corruption and advocating public accountability,” she said.