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ABSTRACT AND EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The research focuses on the necessity of the Freedom of Information Law to be


faithfully executed in the Philippines. Not only is it a constitutionally mandated right,
international laws acceantuate the peoples right to information. The imposition of the law
would control the uneven selective release of information that is apparent in the present
government. Furthermore, the confinement of access to certain types of information will be
subdued by the Freedom of Information laws and in return will generally make access the
default policy.

However, Freedom of Information Law is not absolute. There are


exemptions, such as matters concerning personal privacy, administrative matters such
as inter or intra agency memoranda, international relations or diplomacy, trade and
business or commercial interests, among others. But this does not mean that the
public is totally barred from accessing such information. In some cases, information
included in the exemptions list may still be accessed if clear public interest is
invoked. (http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/63794-why-philippines-needs-
freedom-of-information-law)

Another important feature of FOI laws is requiring note-taking, recording and


archiving or protecting information. This is a policy wherein information, especially
verbal ones passed on during meetings, is duly noted down and kept in a journal or
register and is properly archived and protected.
(http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/63794-why-philippines-needs-freedom-of-
information-law)

Considering all the advantageous circumstances attending to the Freedom of


Information law, the researchers herein thus advocate the importance of the law to be
administered in the country.
INTRODUCTION

It was only on February of the year 2014 when the Philippine government recovered the
$30 million from multi-million dollar accounts that the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos
deposited away in a Swiss bankalmost 28 years after Marcos was ousted from Presidency.
If it were not for forfeiture cases against the late dictator and his wife Imelda, evidence to
prove that they have corrupted a sum of money that clearly exceeded their supposed income
would not have been given substance.

Regardless, neither were the Marcoses ever convicted.

Is there any fault on the part of Congress that caused the delay? Is there any laggard on
the government for enacting laws that allow access to publication?

In the 1960s, laws that required the Marcoses to disclose statements were enacted. It was
the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. 20 years after, in 1989, years after the Marcoses
were already unseated, a new law was enacted by the Congress that allowed public access to
photocopies of assets and liabilities statements.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution further enshrines the right to information. It was to
answer the call for transparency and accountability and to give significance to the
participation of citizens in public affairs that were missing during the Marcos dictatorship. In
fact, it was during then that the press was merely an instrument of a grand official deception.

Moreover, it is provided in the Code of Ethics that it is the obligation of government


offices to prepare public documents on the ready. However, journalists requesting for such
documents were refused of such right repeatedly without being given any clear grounds.

Clearly, the Philippine government has no laggard on laws that would uphold the
right to information. Yet, time and time again are the people presented of issues that could
have been avoided had transparency been properly promoted. To name a few, cases of
bureaucratic corruption, those that concern an improper disbursement of public funds, and
the impairment of the right to information have arised on very many occasions ever since
the adoption of the laws mentioned above.

The right of access is also encompassed in international standards. A number of


international bodies have authoritatively recognized the fundamental and legal nature of the
right to freedom of information, as well as the need for effective legislation to secure respect
for that right in practice. These include the UN, the Organisation of American States, the
Council of Europe and the African Union.
(https://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/3024/en/international-standards:-right-
to-information) In June 2006, nearly 70 countries had freedom of information legislations
applying to information held by government bodies and in certain circumstances to private
bodies. In 19 of these countries the freedom of information legislation also applied to
private bodies. (http://www.japss.org/upload/11._Mazhar%5B1%5D.pdf)

Therefore, the researchers find it to be of great necessity to study on these matters


that could help alleviate the doubt that cloud transparency in the governments transactions
and documents and further enforce the fundamental rights of the people to such privilege.