Freedom of Information

 

Warning: There may or not be some (not really) offensive, nonsensical, and totally unrelated content. Please take note that they will NOT be edited out of this blog. Don’t blame me if something here offends you, dear reader, because I don’t care.

You ever hear some of those rumours or street information (for lack of better terms) regarding the media and how some information, whether they are official or not, gets censored by some media outlets?  If you’ve been on the internet for as long as I have, you might probably have seen at least one nut-job or  conspiracy theorist going on about how the government is manipulating the media to serve their own interests or to protect some sort of state secret. The most popular topic (in its time at least) may have been the Roswell Incident in New Mexico, where an alleged UFO crashed, while the U.S. government insisted that it was a U-2 spy plane or some Commie spy plane.

Are you starting to have an idea of what I’m getting at? Well, buckle up for another minute or hour or so, because we are NOT here to talk about government conspiracies or any of that hicky-doo. Heck, we aren’t even supposed to be talking about that in the first place. No, it’s not because the National Security Agency is spying on me. I live in the Philippines. (Looks out the window and sees two men in black cars, wearing suits and sunglasses. Oh crap!)

Anyway, let’s get back on topic: Duterte’s passing of an Executive Order regarding the Freedom of information. (FREEDOM! WOO!)

“President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an Executive Order mandating full public disclosure of all offices under the executive branch, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar announced Sunday, July 24.” (http://www.rappler.com/nation/140718-duterte-signs-executive-order-freedom-of-information) [1]

Now, regarding this: In doing so, President Duterte has basically stated that every single record of public offices, including, but not limited to, government institutes and organisations, universities and colleges, shall be made accessible for the public. Yes. Every. Single. Record. These include documents, papers, reports, contracts, minutes-of-the-meetings, photo, video and data, physical or electronic. Woah. That is a LOT of information being made public. Emphasis on “public.”

In simple terms, this means that the entire populace of the Philippines now has the right and means to access oh-so-much valuable and important information. (On another note, the people can also have access to some very, very nobody-else-can-know kinds of info and secrets… “Quick! Someone destroy any incriminating evidence that the prosecutors can use against us in court!” said the head of [Insert Name of Government Institute Here] to his/her subordinates, two days before they made all their information and records available for public viewing.)

“No person requesting for information shall be denied access unless the information sought “falls under any of the exception enshrined in the constitution existing law or jurisprudence,” the EO stated.” (http://www.rappler.com/nation/140718-duterte-signs-executive-order-freedom-of-information) (Yes, also from the same source. I know. Don’t judge me.)

On another note, regarding the FOI EO: “MANILA, Philippines — A landmark order that would require all government offices under the executive branch to disclose details of their transactions has been signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in a move that officials said would promote transparency and strengthen public participation in governance.” ([2] < The number is the link, dear reader.)

Even Philstar agrees with this; though in a different manner. But hey, still (almost) the same.

Now, even though the Freedom of Information Executive Order by President Duterte requires that government institutes and organisations disclose all of their records and information, there are certain exceptions. These exceptions include, but are not limited to matters that concern national security and the protection of the people. So yeah, info will be made public, but not all of it. (Suck on that, terrorists! You still can’t do anything to the Filipino people!)

So, let’s ask a question: What is the point in all of this Freedom of Information Executive Order? Don’t we, the public, already have access to government information?

My answer: Then tell me, do you have any clue on what’s been going on “behind the doors” of the government officials that are accused of being corrupt?

Me neither. (What did you expect me to say? They’re making it rain cash in their private offices?)

Anyway, the point of this EO is to strengthen transparency and improve public participation in governance. And the first step is to let all (not all) records be available for public access and review. How do you expect a relationship to work out if one party is keeping secrets from the other? It would horribly fall apart, because there must be a level of trust to be able to maintain a good relationship. Just like how there must be trust between the public and the government in order to maintain the stability of a country.

duterte-foi

[Source]

Extra Excerpt (that will probably give you more info than the post…):

“Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate welcomed the President’s move to finally sign an EO on FOI.

‘This is very good and long awaited step in the quest for transparency and accountability in government,’ Zarate said.

Zarate stressed, this is a clear recognition of every Filipino’s right to ‘have access to information and official records.

The lawmaker added, the Executive’s initiative is ‘certainly a challenge’ to Congress to pass ‘an all-embracing FOI law.’

‘We urge in particular the House leadership to fast track the passage of a genuine FOI bill, one that will truly reflect the principles of full transparency in government and full accountability of government officials and employees,’ Zarate said.

Zarate filed an FOI bill marked as House Bill 334 last June 30.  The lawmaker added, a genuine FOI is ‘a necessary tool’ in the fight against graft and corruption and against other forms of abuse and excesses in the government.” [Source]

A copy of the Executive Order: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/574869/news/nation/executive-order-on-freedom-of-information/top_picks?order=1

Special mention to President Noynoy Aquino who tried to pass this bill during his term but failed. What a failure of a president.

1k words!!! WOOHOO!!!