Press Release
July 10, 2023

Robin Kicks Off Hearing on Overdue FOI Law

It is the right of Filipinos to avail of their freedom of information from government entities, especially since their taxes pay the salaries of government employees.

Sen. Robinhood "Robin" C. Padilla stressed this on Monday as he kicked off the hearing on the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill and 30 other proposed measures referred to his Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media.

"Karapatan yan ng taumbayan, sila nagpapasweldo sa atin... Higit sa tatlong dekada na rin po itong nakabinbin sa Kongreso (Getting information is the right of the Filipino taxpayers who pay our salaries... The FOI bill has been languishing in Congress for more than three decades)," Padilla said of the FOI bill, which he noted was passed on third reading in the Senate as early as the 16th Congress.

"Ang pagsasabatas po ng FOI ay magpapatibay ng Executive Order sa pamamagitan ng pagpuno sa mga kakulangan, pagbibigay ng pondo sa mga mandato, at pagtukoy ng mga parusang kriminal (Making the FOI a law will strengthen the executive order by fulfilling the government's mandate and institutionalizing penalties for violators)," he added.

Padilla pointed out the FOI bill covers all branches of government - executive, legislative and judiciary; constitutional bodies; local government units, government-owned and controlled corporations, government instrumentalities, government corporate entities, non-chartered GOCCs and state universities and colleges.

He added the public has the right to get details of Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth of government officials, public interest transactions, documents or records such as budget expenditures, bidding contracts, procurement plans, debts, and contracts worth P50 million and up.

The FOI measure does not cover confidential details pertaining to national security or defense, law enforcement, foreign affairs, presidential communications privilege, and information in executive sessions of Congress.

At the hearing, Presidential Communications Office Undersecretary Cherbett Karen Maralit said they are trying to balance the request for information and the right to privacy.

Philippine Information Agency director general Jose Torres Jr. added they want to strengthen protection and accountability for whistleblowers; and strengthening the "culture of integrity" among public officials.

Other than the FOI bill, the hearing scheduled for discussion the following bills:

* publication of bills in electronic and online versions as provided in Senate Bill 1645 of Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Senate Bill 881 of Senator Grace Poe;

* bills on language accessibility for public information during disasters;

* use of Digital Identification;

* media regulation;

* verifying identities on online and social media;


Robin, Sinimulan ang Pagtalakay sa Batas ng FOI

Karapatan ng taumbayan na mabigyan ng karampatang impormasyon mula sa pamahalaan, dahil sila ang nagpapasweldo sa mga nasa taga-gobyerno.

Iginiit ito ni Sen. Robinhood "Robin" C. Padilla nang sinimulan niya nitong Lunes ang pagdinig sa Freedom of Information (FOI) bill at 30 pang panukalang batas na naisangguni sa kanyang Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media.

"Karapatan yan ng taumbayan, sila nagpapasweldo sa atin... Higit sa tatlong dekada na rin po itong nakabinbin sa Kongreso," ani Padilla tungkol sa FOI bill, na naipasa sa ikatlong pagbasa sa Senado noon pang 16th Congress.

"Ang pagsasabatas po ng FOI ay magpapatibay ng Executive Order sa pamamagitan ng pagpuno sa mga kakulangan, pagbibigay ng pondo sa mga mandato, at pagtukoy ng mga parusang kriminal," dagdag niya.

Ipinunto ni Padilla na sakop ng FOI bill ang lahat ng sangay ng gobyerno - executive, legislative at judiciary; constitutional bodies; local government units, government-owned and controlled corporations, government instrumentalities, government corporate entities, non-chartered GOCCs at state universities and colleges.

Dagdag nito, bukas sa publiko ang Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth ng mga opisyal ng pamahalaan, public interest transactions, documents or records tulad ng budget expenditures, bidding contracts, procurement plans, utang, at kontratang may halagang P50 milyon at pataas.

Hindi sakop ng FOI ang confidential at limitado sa national security o defense, law enforcement, foreign affairs, presidential communications privilege, at information sa executive session ng Kongreso.

Ayon kay Presidential Communications Office Undersecretary Cherbett Karen Maralit, binabalanse nila ang request for information sa karapatan ng kinauukulan sa privacy.

Ayon naman kay Philippine Information Agency director general Jose Torres Jr., nais nilang palakasin ang proteksyon sa whistleblower; at pagpapalakas ng "culture of integrity" sa public officials.

Bukod sa FOI bill, nakatakda ring italakay sa pagdinig ang:

* paglalathala ng mga batas sa pamamagitan ng electronic at online na bersyon na nakapaloob sa Senate Bill 1645 ni Senator Jinggoy Estrada at Senate Bill 881 ni Senator Grace Poe;

* pagtiyak ng language accessibility ng public information ukol sa mga sakuna nila Senators Bong Revilla, Loren Legarda, Estrada at Lito Lapid;

* panukalang paggamit ng Digital Identification;

* regulasyon ng media;

* pagsisiguro ng tunay na identidad sa online at social media;

* panukala para sa industriya ng pelikula at telebisyon.

*****

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_PDy6me1aQ

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