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