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Philippines

Law on ATI (PH0029)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Philippines National Action Plan 2015 – 2017

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (access to information)

Support Institution(s): Congress, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office; Right to Know, Right Now Coalition

Policy Areas

Right to Information

IRM Review

IRM Report: Philippines End-of-Term Report 2015-2017

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: No

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

The main objective is to pass an access to information law. Passage of the current Freedom of Information bill will mandate the disclosure of government information to the general public. The Freedom of Information (FOI) bill is crucial to institutionalize transparency since it will mandate the disclosure of public documents, as well as the procedures for accessing these documents. Passage of the FOI bill will ensure that government efforts on transparency become the norm and can make government more open as disclosure of public data will be institutionalized.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

For Commitment details, see https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/philippines-mid-term-progress-report-2015-2017.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

1. Law on Access to Information

Commitment Text:

The main objective is to pass an access to information law. Passage of the current Freedom of Information bill will mandate the disclosure of government information to the general public. The Freedom of Information (FOI) bill is crucial to institutionalize transparency since it will mandate the disclosure of public documents, as well as the procedures for accessing these documents. Passage of the FOI bill will ensure that government efforts on transparency become the norm and can make government more open as disclosure of public data will be institutionalized.

Milestones:

Organize, through Philippine OGP, Roundtable Discussions/Workshops on the substantive provisions of the FOI bill with pilot agencies as part of mainstreaming of FOI and confidence building relating thereto preparatory to the implementation of the FOI Act by 2015.

Responsible institution: Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (access to information)

Supporting institutions: Congress, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office; Right to Know Right Now Coalition

Start date: 1 January 2015

End date: 2016

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to contribute to the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) law and address the continuing challenge of access to, and use of, high-quality and relevant information. This was to be done by convening roundtable discussions and workshops, which would have served as consensus-building processes to move the access to information agenda forward.

Status

Midterm: Limited

By May 2016, the Philippines made limited progress toward this commitment. The Executive, mainly through the Department of Budget and Management and the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (the responsible agency), was unsuccessful in its push for the FOI law, which was not passed by Congress.

On 20 August 2015, the Right to Know Right Now (RKRN) coalition announced its withdrawal from the Steering Committee, “putting the blame squarely on President Aquino (and the leadership of the House of Representatives)…for not mustering the political will to honor his campaign pact with the people to assure the passage of FOI.”[Note: Right to Know Right Now. “The FOI Bill is Dead.” Statement released on 20 August 2015. ] While FOI bill was discussed in Steering Committee meetings, and in other civil society meetings, this did not impact the legislative process.

End of term: Limited

On 23 June 2016, the government passed an FOI executive order that operationalized the people’s constitutional right to information.[Note: Executive Order on Freedom of Information http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/2016/07/23/executive-order-no-02-s-2016/. ] By June 2017, the government had made progress toward passing FOI by securing sponsorship and committee-level approval. The government also begun to promote FOI, including releasing an FOI manual, launching an online portal for lodging requests, and publishing a report by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).[Note: PH-OGP End-of-Term Self-Assessment Report. October 9, 2017. https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Philippines_End-of_Term_Self-Assessment_2015-2017.pdf. ],[Note: Mid-year Report on the implementation of Executive Order (EO) No. 02, s. 2016 or the Freedom of Information (FOI) Program in the Executive Branch. https://www.foi.gov.ph/resources. ] According to the self-assessment report, the government considers this commitment to be substantially completed. However, the FOI bill was not included in the list of common priority bills released by the president and Congress in August 2017.[Note: Palace, Congress agree on target bills. 31 August 2017. BusinessWorld. http://bworldonline.com/palace-congress-agree-target-bills/. ] The IRM researcher has marked this commitment as limited because the bill’s passage remains pending, its status in Congress is uncertain, and the president’s support is vague.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

The government has taken steps to address its lack of transparency and to provide citizens with addition opportunities for accessing information. This includes passing the Executive Order, publishing the FOI manual, and launching the online portal for FOI. However, it remains to be seen whether these will make a difference in citizens’ access to and use of information. Officials in the Executive’s FOI program pointed out that securing the participation of other agencies had been a problem: 'There are some agencies that feel that the information they disclose have some kind of intellectual property ownership,' said Kris Ablan, Assistant Secretary of the Executive's FOI program.[Note: Some gov't agencies still 'reluctant' to grant public access to information: Palace official. June 30, 2017. Abs-Cbn News. http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/06/30/17/some-govt-agencies-still-reluctant-to-grant-public-access-to-information-palace-official. ] The Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) has reported mixed results when filing requests through the online portal: out of 503 requests filed between late November and mid-March 2017, 183 requests were denied, 166 granted, and 154 were pending as of 17 March 2017. XX[Note: The Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism FOI requests
http://pcij.org/stories/183-denied-166-granted-154-pending/. ]XX According to PCIJ, requests were responded to according to whether the requested information was filed with the correct agency and if the agency providing the information was enrolled in the FOI program.[Note: Ibid] So far, only 64 of 200 agencies have enrolled in the program.[Note: Ibid] However, a PCOO report from 15 June 2017 claimed, “108 agencies are on-boarded in the FOI portal, 16 departments, 74 NGAs and 18 GOCCs.”[Note: Mid-year Review of the Implimentation of FOI https://www.foi.gov.ph/downloads/FOI_REPORT_six_months.pdf]

Other recent reports put the state of access to information in negative light. For example, the National Police refused to provide the Commission on Human Rights access to reports detailing alleged cases of extrajudicial killing without the approval of the president.[Note: Duterte unlikely to give CHR access to case folders. 9 September 2017. Inquirer.net. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/929081/philippine-news-updates-commission-on-human-rights-president-duterte-drug-killings. ] Another example has been the redaction by the government in the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net-worth (SALN) of some of the members of the Cabinet.[Note: Redactions in Duterte Cabinet's latest SALNs 'deal-breaker' for FOI – PCIJ. 22 September 2017. Rappler. https://www.rappler.com/nation/183046-redactions-cabinet-members-saln-deal-breaker-foi-pcij. ] As stated above, the fact that the FOI law is not among the president’s priority bills is another indication that the bill may not be passed.

Carried Forward?

This commitment has been carried over to the next action plan. The aim of the new commitment is to pass FOI legislation, though the deliverables include continued implementation of the FOI Executive Order and the use of online portal. The IRM researcher recommends that the other deliverables and actions be linked to the legislation through a concerted that draws attention to the limits of practice due to absence of an FOI law. Stakeholders from all levels need to put pressure on the president and on Congress to prioritize FOI. This includes the media, civil society, government agencies, and ordinary citizens. Ultimately, this commitment can only be judged as completed if the FOI law is passed.


Philippines's Commitments

  1. Civil society participation to improve LGU service delivery

    PH0042, 2017, Capacity Building

  2. Engage communities in the fight against corruption, criminality and illegal drugs

    PH0043, 2017, Capacity Building

  3. Ease of Doing Business:Competitiveness

    PH0044, 2017, Legislation & Regulation

  4. Ease of doing business: Philippines’ Anti-Red Tape Challenge)

    PH0045, 2017, Capacity Building

  5. Citizen Participatory Audit)

    PH0046, 2017, Audits and Controls

  6. 8888 Citizens’ Complaint Center

    PH0047, 2017, Public Participation

  7. Government feedback mechanism

    PH0048, 2017, Capacity Building

  8. Access to Information Legislation

    PH0049, 2017, Capacity Building

  9. E-Participation through the National Government Portal

    PH0050, 2017, Citizenship and Immigration

  10. Open Budget Index and Budget Reform Bill

    PH0051, 2017, E-Government

  11. Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

    PH0052, 2017, Beneficial Ownership

  12. Institutional Mechanisms for Disaster Response

    PH0053, 2017, E-Government

  13. Shelter Development for Informal Settler Families

    PH0054, 2017, E-Government

  14. Open Local Legislative Processes

    PH0055, 2017, E-Government

  15. Law on ATI

    PH0029, 2015, Right to Information

  16. Transparency of local govs plans and budgets

    PH0030, 2015, Fiscal Transparency

  17. Open Data

    PH0031, 2015, Open Data

  18. Extractive Industries' Transparency

    PH0032, 2015, Extractive Industries

  19. CSO engagement in public audit

    PH0033, 2015,

  20. Civic enagement in local budget planning

    PH0034, 2015, Participation in Budget Processes

  21. Civic Enagement in Local Budget Planning – Community Capacity-Building

    PH0035, 2015, Capacity Building

  22. Improving public service delivery

    PH0036, 2015, Public Participation

  23. Improving local govs' performance

    PH0037, 2015, Capacity Building

  24. Improve the ease of doing business

    PH0038, 2015, Private Sector

  25. local government competitiveness

    PH0039, 2015, Capacity Building

  26. Public and private sector dialogue

    PH0040, 2015, Private Sector

  27. Improving corporate accountability

    PH0041, 2015, Private Sector

  28. Sustain transparency in national government plans and budgets

    PH0020, 2013, E-Government

  29. Support for the passage of legislations on access to information and protection of whistleblowers

    PH0021, 2013, Legislation & Regulation

  30. Engage civil society in public audit

    PH0022, 2013, Public Participation

  31. Enhance performance benchmarks for local governance

    PH0023, 2013, Capacity Building

  32. Enhance the government procurement system

    PH0024, 2013, E-Government

  33. Strengthen grassroots participation in local planning and budgeting

    PH0025, 2013, Participation in Budget Processes

  34. Provide more accessible government data in a single portal and open format

    PH0026, 2013, E-Government

  35. Starred commitment Initiate fiscal transparency in the extractive industry

    PH0027, 2013, Extractive Industries

  36. Starred commitment Improve the ease of doing business

    PH0028, 2013, Private Sector

  37. Disclose Executive Budgets

    PH0001, 2011, Fiscal Transparency

  38. Access to Information Initiative

    PH0002, 2011, Right to Information

  39. Broader CSO Engagement

    PH0003, 2011, OGP

  40. Participatory Budget Roadmap

    PH0004, 2011, Participation in Budget Processes

  41. Local Poverty Reduction

    PH0005, 2011, Subnational

  42. Empowerment Fund

    PH0006, 2011, Capacity Building

  43. Social Audit

    PH0007, 2011, Public Participation

  44. Results-Based Performance

    PH0008, 2011, Capacity Building

  45. Performance-Based Budgeting

    PH0009, 2011, Capacity Building

  46. Citizen’s Charters

    PH0010, 2011, Capacity Building

  47. Internal Audit

    PH0011, 2011, Audits and Controls

  48. Single Portal for Information

    PH0012, 2011, E-Government

  49. Integrated Financial Management System

    PH0013, 2011, E-Government

  50. Electronic Bidding

    PH0014, 2011, E-Government

  51. Procurement Cards

    PH0015, 2011, Open Contracting and Procurement

  52. Manpower Information System

    PH0016, 2011, E-Government

  53. Expand the National Household Targeting System (NHTS)

    PH0017, 2011, Public Participation

  54. e-TAILS

    PH0018, 2011, E-Government

  55. Budget ng Bayan

    PH0019, 2011, Fiscal Transparency