Abad: Freedom of info essential in Aquino Governance & Anti-Corruption Plan

February 3, 2012 10:49 pm 

MANILA, Feb. 3 – Department of Budget and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad asserted on Friday that the pursuit of greater public access to information is an integral element of the Aquino Administration’s Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Plan for 2012 to 2016.

He said this after the Aquino Administration submitted its endorsed version of the proposed Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to the House of Representatives Committee on Public Information today.

Abad, as head of the Secretariat of the Cabinet Cluster on Good Governance and Anti-Corruption, transmitted the administration bill upon orders of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

“President Aquino believes that we can curb corruption more successfully and strengthen public institutions if citizens are given greater access to official information. Moreover, freedom of information — limited only by a few legitimate areas of confidentiality — will empower the people to hold their leaders accountable and get actively involved in governance,” he said.

Last month, Abad announced that the President has approved the Good Governance and Anti-Corruption (GGAC) Plan for 2012 to 2016, with the caveat that departments and agencies which will implement initiatives and projects under it should firm-up their targets and delivery timelines.

The DBM chief said that the GGAC Plan contains reforms and innovations that pursue greater transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in governance. The FOI Bill falls under the GGAC Plan’s Transparency Pillar, which contains initiatives to ensure the regular and accurate disclosure of, and greater public access to, government information.

“We are not only pursuing freedom of information in and of itself, but we also seek to bolster the other initiatives under the GGAC Plan. For example, greater access to information on government projects and spending will allow civil society organizations to provide more relevant recommendations as they engage our participatory planning, budgeting and audit processes,” he said.

“But the FOI Act alone will not improve access to information. Under the GGAC Plan, we are pursuing other initiatives to enable meaningful freedom of information, including technologies that will automate the processing and public disclosure of data, as well as clearer and faster mechanisms for public requests for documents,” he added.

The GGAC Plan also includes the Philippine government’s commitments to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) for 2012. The DBM, serving as the Governance Cluster’s Secretariat, spearheaded the crafting of the GGAC Plan. (PNA) scs/PR/utb

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