Palace backs FOI but won't certify it as urgent
MANILA - Malacañang said it supports the passage of a freedom of information bill, referring to the Palace version of the FOI bill that it has submitted to Congress.
The Palace, however, could not yet say if President Aquino is certifying it as urgent.
"Meron kaming Malacañang bill. In fact, noong nag… When Usec. (Manolo) Quezon appeared before the Senate Committee on Public Information, headed by Senator Grace Poe, Usec. Quezon already informed the committee that we will submit the Malacañang bill, the Malacañang version of the FOI Bill. So that is something that we are prepared to do," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
"Also, I think, in the interview with Inquirer, I think the President also mentioned that he is happy with the Malacañang version of the FOI Bill. There are concerns also on the House… the concerns must be addressed also by the House legislators."
The Palace version of the FOI bill requires the expanded and online publication of statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) of the president, the vice president, members of the Cabinet, members of Congress, members of the Supreme Court, officers of the Armed Forces with the rank of general or flag officer, and members of constitutional commissions and other constitutional offices.
It also lists 10 exceptions, including information that should be kept secret such as those directly related to national security and foreign affairs that might weaken the negotiating position of the country or jeopardize diplomatic relations of the country.
Records of minutes and advice given and opinions expressed during decision-making or policy formulation invoked by the president to be privileged and are considered part of the president’s deliberative process are also exempted from disclosure, as well as information pertaining to trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained in confidence or covered by privileged communication.
The Palace version of the FOI also excluded the proposed creation of an Information Commission, which was envisioned to have quasi-judicial powers to solve disputes between state agencies and any party seeking disclosure of public documents.
The FOI bill perished despite its passage in the Senate during the 14th and 15th Congress because it never passed third and final reading in the House of Representatives. With a report by The Philippine Star