Responsible Right to Information

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The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized.

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EXPLANATORY NOTE

No less than the 1987 Constitution has recognized every Filipino's right to

information. Article III, Section 7 of the Constitution states:


The right of the people to information on matters of public

concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to

documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or

decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis

for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to

such limitations as may be provided by law

The People's Responsible Right to Information Bill is one such major step in

actualizing this constitutional provision to enable citizens to access information in

areas of public concern. Indeed, the free and open exchange of information in a

democracy is necessary to enhance the transparency and accountability in

government official acts, transactions, and decisions.

The Supreme Court in a series of its decisions has consistently upheld the right to

information by every citizen. Speaking in the landmark case of Valmonte vs.

Belmonte, the Court held that "Open dialogue can be effective only to the extent that

the citizenry is informed and thus able to formulate its will intelligently. Only when the

participants in the discussion are aware of the issues and have access to information

relating thereto can such bear fruit."

However, this bill takes into serious consideration the fact that information is power

and should therefore be held responsibly. It maintains respect to the strength of the

fundamental human right of privacy and of communication while ensuring the free

flow of information to promote innovation and growth.

The last clause, Article III, Section 7 of the Constitution clearly provides that the right

to information of the people can be subject to some level of control to preclude abuse

and misuse of the information made available. Hence, to ensure that this right does

not go unbridled, this proposed measure seeks to strike a balance between the

people's right to information while putting in place reasonable mechanism of

regulation.

This bill also takes into consideration the mandate of the newly created Department

of Information and Communications Technology to spearhead the capacity-building

of the various government bodies in implementing this Act and to

monitor its meaningful enforcement. To accomplish the latter, a Congressional

Oversight Committee is likewise proposed to be created in order to conduct a sunset

review of this proposed measure to come up with remedial legislation when the need

arises.

This bill likewise mandates every government agency to have a clear set of rules of

procedure in entertaining all the requests by a citizen. At the same time, the agencies

will be mandated to make readily available all information on their website or any

other medium subject to legal limitations.

Compared to the earlier versions, this bill has included the officers of the Philippine

National Police and heads of GOCCs as among the government officials required to

make available their SALN available on their agencies’ official website. This version

likewise covers all employees regardless of Salary Grade into complying with the

requirements of the Act.

With our promise of a more transparent and accountable government to the people,

the immediate approval of this bill is earnestly sought.

LUIS “LRAY” RAYMUND F. VILLAFUERTE, JR.