• Andi Dela Torre- Griffiths

What is the Freedom of Information Program?

Last June 20-21, my classmate Judy from grad school and I (listed under the Youth Alliance for FOI), attended a two-day training of trainers for Freedom of Information (FOI) Ambassadors. It was organized by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), as part of their efforts to raise awareness on the FOI program and to get members of the civil society to advocate the passage of the FOI law. It was pretty organized; we learned a lot from the speakers as well as the different action plans we created along with our teammates. We also had ample time to rest, socialize, and work on the assignments. I was actually sick the whole time, but I enjoyed the company of everyone, so it didn't really matter.

Youth Alliance for FOI (L-R: Judie, me, Renzo, Carol, and Ranze) & My teammates for the group activities

Going back...

The training revolved around the FOI program; its significance in promoting an open government, its role in forming smart citizens, and how to make requests. The speakers shared that the most requested government information are legal documents and contracts, usually obtained by requesting parties for research purposes. We also learned that the top five government agencies with the most number of requests in 2018 are the following: Philippine Statistics Authority (1,026), Department of Health (552), Department of Transportation (458), Department of Budget and Management (256), and the Department of Public Works and Highways (203).

For those who are not yet aware of it, here's a quick definition of the Executive Order No. 2 or the Freedom of Information program.

E.O. No. 2, or the FOI program, is an order requiring all executive departments, agencies, bureaus, and offices, to make available to the public, contracts or other documents that are of public concern. There are two ways to make a request; it can be through the standard FOI platform, or through eFoi.

Standard Request

Those who plan to use the first platform should accomplish a request form that requires just a few details, and a copy of any government-issued ID for identity verification. The Receiving Officer will then validate the request before it is turned over to the Decision Maker, the person responsible for further assessment. The form should be stamped with the date when it was requested, and when it will be available to claim. Usual processing time is within 7 to 15 days, but there may be an additional twenty days if the document requires extensive searching. Regardless, they should notify the requesting party.

eFOI Request

The other option is to use the user-friendly FOI portal. Just log on to their website, sign up for an account, then type in the document you want to request. Much better if you already know which agency is supposed to provide you with the data because that would make things easier. Here's how the website looks like.

Anyway, the lead agency responsible for the implementation of the FOI program is the PCOO. They are currently working on a lot of things right now to ensure that they reach as much as people as they can in terms of sharing knowledge about government information accessibility. That would be all for now, I hope you learned something from today's post, thank you so much for reading!

#passFOInow #smartcitizens #FOIphilippines

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