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Article II, Sec.

28 (Policy of Full Public Disclosure)


Legaspi vs. Civil Service Commission
No. L-72119
May 29, 1987
Cortes:
Facts: Petitioner Valentin L. Legaspi files for Mandamus to compel respondent Civil Service
Commission to release information on the civil service eligibilities of persons employed as
sanitarians (Julian Sibonghanoy and Mariano Agas) in the Health Department of Cebu City.
OSG contends that petitioner has no locus standing as he failed to show his actual interest. The
Court ruled however that the petition on mandamus is anchored upon the right of the people for
information on matters of public concern which is a public right.
1. The petitioner being a citizen (hence, part of the public) warrants standing in his part;
and
2. The State and its agents are mandated by the Constitution by virtue of Sec. 7 Article III
and Sec. 28, Article II.
Issue: WON respondent should release the information.
Held: Yes.
The constitutional right to information on matters of public information is grounded on Sec.
7, Article III and Sec. 28, Article II of the 1987 Constitution. These are self-executory.
In the case at bar, the government agency Civil Service Commission does not have
the discretion to prohibit the access to information sought. It only has the authority
to regulate the manner of examination (e.g. ensuring that the records are not
damaged or destroyed).
These constitutional guarantees, however, are not absolute as they are subject to the
limitations as may be provided by law (Art. III Sec. 7 2 nd sentence). The information
sought must be not be exempted by law.
In the case at bar, the information is within the enumerations provided by law.
Why/ How?
1. the information sought relates to a public office which can be considered as a
legitimate concern of citizens (public office as public trust);
2. Respondent failed to cite any provision in the Civil Service Law which would limit
the petitioners right to know who are, and who are not civil service eligible; and
3. Civil service exams results are released in the public.
Ratio:
Government agencies such as the Civil Service Commission do not have the discretion in
refusing disclosure of, or access to, information of public concern.
What is within the bounds of the agencies then? They still have the authority to regulate
the manner of examining public records.
The authority to regulate the manner of examining public records does not carry
with it the power to prohibit.
The Court provided a distinction between discretion/ prohibition and authority to
regulate.
o Refusal to disclose only the Legislature may impose (Sec. 6, Article III)
o Authority to regulate the manner of examination done by government
agency which has the custody of public records.

In case of denial by the agency, it must prove that the information is not of public
concern or if it is of public concern, it is within the exemptions (e.g. national
security). Further, every denial is subject to review by courts.

Is the information sought by the petitioner considered public concern/ interest within
those mentioned in the articles? YES!
The constitutional guarantees are not absolute as the law may exempt certain types
of information from public scrutiny such as those affecting national security.
There is no rigid test as the term public concern/ interest is broad. It is for the
courts to determine if the information falls within public concern or public
interest.

Legal historical background of the right to public information


Right to information on matters of public concern first gained recognition in the
1973 Constitution (Section 6 of Article IV-Bill of Rights).
This was retained by Article III Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution. Further, such
guarantee was enhanced with the adoption of Section 18, Article II (Policy of Full
Public Disclosure).