The Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday welcomed the recommendation of the Presidential Communications Operations Office to the incoming secretary of the agency to retain President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 2 or Freedom of Information policy.
Acting deputy presidential spokesperson Undersecretary Kris Ablan said the Presidential Communications Group, consisting of agencies, such as the Philippine Information Agency, Philippine News Agency, Radio Philippines Network, People’s Television Network and Bureau Communications Office, have already prepared their transition report for the incoming officials for endorsement.
One initiative the CHR wishes the next administration would continue is the Freedom of Information program, which acts as a transparency mechanism of the executive branch.
It said the right to information as enshrined in Section 7, Article III of the Constitution states that citizens can have access to “official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development” on all subjects and issues of public concern.
Despite such a constitutional guarantee, there is a lack of enabling legislation to exercise this right, CHR executive director Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.
“The pronouncement made by President Duterte in 2016 was not only a clear recognition of this fundamental freedom, but also a promotion of an open and participatory government,” she added.
CHR joined the PCOO in the endorsement of this policy to the next administration. Freedom of information, as a demonstration of modern democracy, is imperative in the fulfillment of consonant rights – freedom of speech, of expression and of the press.
“CHR reminds our leaders that public trust is the cornerstone of our democracy,” De Guia said.
“We look forward to the continued crafting of measures that further government transparency. A push for this directly corresponds to countering corruption and advocating for public accountability,” she said.