FoI compliance being pushed on local government units

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Davao City Hall

THE Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) have instructed local government units (LGUs) to implement freedom of information-compliant practices in accordance with Executive Order No. 2, citing the need to better deter corruption.

“Let us be a part of the movement to eliminate corruption at the local level. Freedom to access information in the LGUs is freedom from corruption,” said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año in a statement released Thursday.

Mr. Año said the two government agencies issued a joint memorandum circular to that effect.

“If a local government has nothing to hide, opening up local information for public consumption would not be an issue,” he added.

The FoI Executive Order was issued on July 23, 2016, requiring more comprehensive disclosure from members of the executive branch.

The joint memorandum circular instructs local executives to initiate procedures for the processing of requests for access to information, and remedies in case of requests that are denied, among others.

It also instructed them to look into a fee structure for FoI requests, record-keeping and protecting the privacy of applicants.

Mr. Año said the joint memorandum also calls on LGUs are encouraged to adopt the “disclose to one, disclose to all” policy for information released through the observance of FOI and proactively disclose information not included in their inventory of exceptions.

“It is important we get a positive response from local governments to adopt FoI because it is an opportunity to safeguard the national treasure and to monitor the wealth of officials,” he said. — Vince Angelo C. Ferrera