Philippines Okays Freedom of Information Bill

President Benigno S. Aquino III approved the Palace proposal on the Freedom of Information FOI Bill pending in Congress, which calls for the mandatory disclosure of government information to ensure enhanced transparency in government transactions.The President met Wednesday morning with Secretaries Florencio Abad, Rene Almendras, Ricky Carandang, Edwin Lacierda and Undersecretary Manuel L. Quezon III to discuss the details of the Freedom of Information Bill.Quezon, who shepherded the FOI bill in the Executive branch, said in a press conference in Malacanang on Wednesday that they discussed with various stakeholders for several months the bill based on the instructions of the President.He said they presented the results of the consultations and studies to the President during Wednesday’s meeting.“And the President’s marching orders to us was and this is his words: ‘to push ahead with the Freedom of Information,’” Quezon said.However, Quezon noted that the President asked for the removal of the proposed Information Commission from the draft because the Chief Executive felt that it would add another layer of bureaucracy.“The overall intention of this whole exercise, besides to make it as democratic and consultative as possible, was precisely because we were all working under the view that we have to make the constitutional injunction making information a right of the public a living reality,” Quezon said.

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