Press Release
March 9, 2016


CANDELARIA, QUEZON--To ensure an open and transparent government, leading presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe said the first executive order she will issue, should she win the presidency, is the implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) provisions, sans legislation.

Poe, who secured legal mandate from the Supreme Court to run for president, said the FOI order will mandate all executive offices to comply with the FOI principles that she has championed in the Senate.

"Kung ako ang magiging pangulo, ang gagawin ko ito: sa unang ilang araw pa lamang, gagawin kong executive order na ang lahat ng executive branches of government, kailangang merong freedom of information. Tapos, gagawin nating tunay na prayoridad sa Kongreso na ipasa itong batas na ito," Poe said at a press conference in Candelaria, Quezon.

Poe is the primary sponsor of the FOI bill in Congress while her running mate, Sen. Francis Escudero is the primary author. They are in Quezon for the fifth week of their campaign, stopping in Lopez, Lucban, Tayabas, Candelaria and Lucena.

The bill was passed by the Senate in March 2014 with 22 affirmative votes, no abstention and no negative votes. However, the bill is still up for second reading at the House of Representatives and is not likely to pass in the 16th Congress.

Poe said she is optimistic that given the right direction, the next set of lawmakers will make the FOI bill a priority.

"Gusto din nilang pakiramdaman ang pangulo kung talagang tunay na isinusulong ito. At kung nakikita nilang seryoso, sa tingin ko mapapasa natin agad yan," she said. "Pero you have my commitment na at least, in the executive branch, with the executive order, we will implement a freedom of information."

Under the measure, the public will have the right to access government records subject to the procedures and limitations provided by law. The FOI bill also mandates all government agencies to publish and make available for download their budget, expenses and audited financial statements.

Poe pointed out that freedom of information is a landmark principle enshrined in the Constitution, which also declares public office as a public trust.

She said it was baffling that there is still no law that would enable the constitutional provision on access to government information. Since 1987, more than 20 bills on freedom of information have been filed in Congress but most did not make it to the plenary.

There are 95 countries around the world that have an FOI Law. In Southeast Asia, only Thailand and Indonesia have such a statute.

News Latest News Feed