President Duterte issued Executive Order 2 last July 23 as a means of maintaining transparency in his administration, although it was only limited to the executive branch pending the passage of a law.
Presidential Photographers Division/Karl Alonzo
FOI takes effect today
Lawrence Agcaoili, Giovanni Nilles (The Philippine Star) - November 25, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The public will now have access to information they may need from 15 national government agencies as Malacañang launches the eFOI portal or the electronic site for freedom of information (FOI) today.

The portal, according to assistant secretary for policy and legislative affairs Kris Ablan, allows people to look into the transactions of the 15 agencies that are participating in the beta stage of eFOI.

President Duterte issued Executive Order 2 last July 23 as a means of maintaining transparency in his administration, although it was only limited to the executive branch pending the passage of a law.

Not all data can be accessed though, as Ablan cited at least nine exemptions: information covered by executive privilege; those relating to national security, defense or international relations; those concerning law enforcement and protection of public and personal safety; and those affecting privacy like cases involving minors and victims of crimes.

Also exempted are information, documents or records deemed confidential by the concerned government agencies; prejudicial premature disclosure; record of court proceedings; those involving banking and finance laws; and other exception provided by law.

“You may recall, there was news going around a few months ago that 166 exceptions would render the FOI EO meaningless or useless… But the truth of the matter is, the list that was talked about was just an inventory of different exceptions... since then, we adopted the best practice of other countries which categorize and group the several exceptions into nine major categories,” Ablan said.

As the portal is still in its test stage, only the information coming from six departments and nine agencies can be accessed online.

These offices include the departments of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Budget and Management (DBM), Finance (DOF), Justice (DOJ), Health (DOH) and Transportation (DOTr); the Presidential Communications Office, Philippine Statistics Authority, National Archives of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, Presidential Commission on Good Government, Office of the Solicitor General and Public Attorney’s Office.

Crucial departments, like education, social welfare and public works, can still be accessed through the manual method.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
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