Press Release
June 19, 2023

Legarda calls for greater transparency, access to information at the first PH hosting of International Conference of Information Commissioners

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda emphasized the vital role of transparency in governance and the need for accountability and transparency in the government as she delivered a speech at the opening session of the 14th Edition of the International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC) held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City today.

"Whether it is to hide incompetence, reduce the work they have to do, or actually hide corruption, transparency in government will remain a lofty concept if civil servants do not take the servant part of their role to heart," Legarda stated.

Highlighting her own experiences, Legarda identified three crucial aspects of transparency.

The first, she said, is an informed and active citizenry as the driving force behind accountability and good governance. Legarda acknowledged the challenges organizations faced striving to be watchdogs and called for greater cooperation between civil society and the government.

The second is the role of brave and disciplined media in upholding the truth. Legarda, a former journalist, stressed the importance of media as gatekeepers of truth, especially in the age of disinformation and historical revisionism. She called on the media to stand firm and foster truth in society.

The third is the responsibility of the government itself to be transparent. Legarda urged civil servants to be unafraid of conflict and embrace the demands for transparency from the public. By efficiently addressing these demands, the government can honor the efforts of citizens to bring sunlight into the realm of governance.

Reflecting on her recent experience mediating between the government and protesting organizations during the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Legarda highlighted the importance of listening to all voices and addressing their concerns. She acknowledged the power of citizen engagement in enlightening governance and driving improvements.

"In hearings and organized fora, I listened, in fact being partial to the anti-RCEP voices, to craft a ratifying resolution that addresses their concerns. It was only through listening to the naysayers and identifying their specific and relevant concerns that government will be truly democratic," the senator said.

Legarda called upon attendees to respond earnestly to freedom of information requests and actively disseminate information. She referenced the concept of 'Wikinomics' and encouraged open access to information, emphasizing the greater benefits of tapping into the collective intelligence of the citizenry to solve societal problems.

"There is always a greater benefit to asking the citizenry to contribute their best thinking on societal problems because they have to information at hand to truly help," she furthered.

She also praised government applications that provide citizens access to maps, documents, and contact information and urged them to view these apps as opportunities to create positive change and leave a lasting legacy.

The conference, which carries the theme, "Bridging Information Across Nations: Concretizing the Global Role of Access to Information for Democratic Preservation, Inclusivity, and Development," brought together delegates and dignitaries to discuss the importance of transparency and access to information in fostering democratic governance and sustainable development.

Legarda provided support for the Philippines' first hosting of the forum under the 2023 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

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