Press Release
February 2, 2010


Vice-presidential race frontrunner Senator Mar Roxas today said the days of the corrupt is at an end with the passage by both chambers of Congress of the Freedom of Information Act of 2010.

It is now incumbent on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to sign it into law and allow full scrutiny of what her administration has done and what future ones will do to scorch corruption out of the Philippine government's system, said Roxas, who is one of the primary authors of the bill in the Senate.

"On my part, I will sign voluntarily a waiver on the Bank Secrecy Act if I will become Vice-President," Roxas added, further expanding his pledge of openness to include his personal finances if he wins in the May 10 elections.

"Kung may mga natitira pang puwedeng gawin si Gloria na mabuti, itong pagpirma sa Free Information Act ay isa sa mga iyon (If Gloria still has a few more good things to do, then signing the Free Information Act into law is one of them)," he said.

The Senate on Monday ratified the bicameral conference committee version of the said law, which seeks to establish a policy of transparency and free information access to the public. The House of Representatives is set to ratify the same before session ends this week.

The prospective law mandates all government agencies to make available to the public for scrutiny and reproduction all information pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as government research data used as basis for policy development. It also establishes a "legal presumption in favour of access to information."

"Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap. Kung lahat ng impormasyon sa gobyerno ay bukas sa publiko, hindi na maitutuloy ng mga magnanakaw sa gobyerno ang maiiitim nilang balak (Ending corruption means ending poverty. If all official information are open to public, then the scallywags in government will think twice before pursuing their dark plans)," Roxas said.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, government officials who refuse to accede to requests for information by the public or who fail to upload information for mandatory disclosure, among others, may be imprisoned for one to six months.

Any government agency should comply to any request for information within seven working days. They may charge reasonable fees to defray the cost of reproduction, and may extend the deadline only up to 15 days from the date of request for practical reasons.

Once a government agency denies the request, it shall be made in writing within 7 days from the request, specifying the officer who made the denial and the reasons for the denial.

The law provides a procedure for recourse in case of denial - by making an appeal to the person or office next higher in authority, by filing a verified complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman, or by filing a verified petition for mandamus in the proper court.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, only the following information are exempted from disclosure:

  • Information authorized to be kept in secret under an executive order, when the disclosure of such information jeopardizes the internal and external defense of the state, diplomatic relations or the country's negotiating position in ongoing bilateral or multilateral negotiations. Such information shall eventually be declassified;

  • Information that pertains to internal and external defense and law enforcement, that when revealed will jeopardize legitimate military or law enforcement operations;

  • Information on personal information of a natural person, that when disclosed will constitute unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;

  • Information on trade, industrial, financial or commercial secrets;

  • Privileged information by law or by the Rules of Court, unless waived;

  • Those obtained by Congressional committees in executive session;

  • Drafts of decisions by any executive, administrative, judicial or quasi-judicial body, that when revealed impairs the impartiality of verdicts or obstruct the administration of justice.

Furthermore, the law directs the mandatory disclosure of information relevant to transactions involving public interest through online publishing:

  • Compromise agreements;

  • Private sector participation or contracts in infrastructure and development projects;

  • Procurement contracts;

  • Construction or concession agreements or contracts;

  • Loans, grants, development assistance, technical assistance and programs with bilateral, multilateral or private aid agencies;

  • Loans from domestic and foreign financial institutions;

  • Public funding extended to any private entity;

  • Bilateral or multilateral agreements and treaties in defense, trade, economic partnership, investments, cooperation, etc;

  • Licenses, permits or agreements pertaining to the extraction or utilization of natural resources.

News Latest News Feed