Camarines Sur vice governor lauds PCOO for FOI caravan

PILI, Camarines Sur --- Camarines Sur Vice Governor Fortunato Peña commended the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) for coming up with an informative caravan that seeks to empower the constituents with their rights to get informed and take part in democratic governance. “I would like to commend PCOO for coming up with this advocacy which I believe is very essential for all of us, government workers. The province of Camarines Sur, under the headship of Governor Migz Villafuerte also shares the same advocacy in the promotion of transparency and accountability,” Peña said during the opening of the caravan at the Villa Del Rey, Capitol Complex here today, Oct. 10. The Freedom of Information (FOI) caravan was spearheaded by lawyer Tristan De Guzman, policy adviser at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy and Legislative Affairs. Before a big audience, De Guzman discussed the salient concerns under Executive Order 2 of President Rodrigo Duterte which implemented FOI in the executive branch. The audience consisted of regional heads and representatives of national agencies, heads of offices, representatives from the academe, local government units, civic organizations, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders. In the discussion, FOI was defined as an “important enabling mechanism to promote transparency in the government’s administrative process.” De Guzman reiterated that not only the media and the influential are allowed access to information but also the constituents who wants to get pertinent data either for their research or for purposes of transparency and right information. “All national government agencies are mandated under EO 2 to disclose information to whoever may want it unless they are listed under the exemptions as specified under the law. There is also a very simple process on how one can request for the needed information,” De Guzman added. The exceptions include: information covered by executive privilege; privileged information relating to national security, defense or international relations; information concerning law enforcement and protection of public and personal safety and information deemed confidential for the protection of the privacy of persons and certain individuals such as minors, victims of crimes, or the accused. Information, documents or records known by reason of official capacity and are deemed as confidential, including those submitted or disclosed by entities to government agencies, tribunals, boards, or officers, in relation to the performance of their functions, or to inquiries or investigation conducted by them in the exercise of their administrative, regulatory of quasi-judicial powers are also exempted from being disclosed. Prejudicial premature disclosure documents, records of proceedings or information from proceedings which, pursuant to law or relevant rules and regulations, are treated as confidential or privileged; matters considered confidential under banking and finance laws, and their amendatory laws and other exceptions to the right to information under laws, jurisprudence, rules and regulations are also part of the exemptions. (LSM/PIA5-Camarines Sur)