Government finalizing exemptions in FOI list
Giovanni Nilles (The Philippine Star) - August 29, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The numerous exemptions the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General want to include in the Executive Order (EO) on the Freedom of Information (FOI) may drain the essence of President Duterte’s directive to allow public access to government records and transactions.

As proposed by the two agencies, all records, aside from those affecting national security and intelligence or military reports, would be prohibited from the public’s view.

The proposed exemptions include confidential and privileged proceedings before any government agency – which may refer to pending cases, notes, drafts, research papers, internal discussions, memoranda and records of internal deliberation, among others.

Also sought to be excluded from the FOI are court records, including pleadings and other documents filed by litigants, all results of HIV/AIDS testing, trade secrets and banking transactions, industrial secrets, school records and medical records.

Others are Social Security System records, credit information, anti-money laundering concerns, bank deposits, all properties of corporations or individuals in custody of banks and tax returns.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar yesterday said all the proposals for exemption are still being reviewed by lawyers in the Presidential Communications Office and not everything would be included in the FOI’s implementing rules and regulations.

“Let us just wait for the final list,” Andanar said in an interview over dzRB.

The EO on the FOI, which Duterte signed last July 24, mandates all offices under the executive branch to grant full disclosure to the public.

Under the EO, Filipinos may ask for information through a letter of request to the concerned office along with a valid proof of identity. It also provides that no person requesting information shall be denied access unless the information sought “falls under any of the exceptions enshrined in the Constitution, existing law or jurisprudence.”

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