BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO.
OPERATIONALIZING IN THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH THE PEOPLE’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO INFORMATION AND THE STATE POLICIES OF FULL PUBLIC DISCLOSURE AND TRANSPARENCY IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE AND PROVIDING GUIDELINES THEREFOR
WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 28, Article II of the 1987 Constitution, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest, subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law;
WHEREAS, Section 7, Article III of the Constitution guarantees the right of the people to information on matters of public concern;
WHEREAS, the incorporation of this right in the Constitution is a recognition of the fundamental role of free and open exchange of information in a democracy, meant to enhance transparency and accountability in government official acts, transactions, or decisions;
WHEREAS, the Executive Branch recognizes the urgent need to operationalize these Constitution provisions;
WHEREAS, the President, under Section 17, Article VII of the Constitution, has control over all executive departments, bureaus and offices, and the duty to ensure that the laws be faithfully executed;
WHEREAS, the Data Privacy Act of 2012 (R.A. 10173), including its implementing Rules and Regulations, strengthens the fundamental human right of privacy, and of communication while ensuring the free flow of information to promote innovation and growth;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the COnstitution and existing laws, do hereby order;
section 1. Definition. For the purpose of this Executive Order, the following terms shall mean:
(a) “Information” shall mean any records, documents, papers, reports, letters, contracts, minutes and transcripts of official meetings, maps, books, photographs, data, research materials, films, sound and video recording, magnetic or other tapes, electronic data, computer stored data, or any other like or similar data or materials recorded, stored or archived in whatever format, whether offline or online, which are made, received, or kept in or under the control and custody of any government office pursuant to law, executive order, and rules and regulations or in connection with the performance or transaction of official business by any government office.
(b) “Official record/records” shall refer to information produced or received by a public officer or employee, or by a government office in an official capacity or pursuant to a public function or duty.
(c) “Public record/records” shall include information required by laws, executive orders, rules or regulations to be entered, kept and made publicly available by a government office.
SECTION 2. Coverage. This order shall cover all government offices under the Executive Branch, including but not limited to the national government and all its offices, departments, bureaus, offices, and instrumentalities, including government-owned or -controlled corporations, and state universities and colleges. Local government units (LGUs) are encouraged to observe and be guided by this Order.
SECTION 3. Access to Information. Every Filipino shall have access to information, official records, public records and to documents and paper pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for public-development.
SECTION 4. Exception. Access to information shall be denied when the information falls under any of the exceptions enshrined in the Constitution, existing law or jurisprudence.
The Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor GEneral are hereby directed to prepare an inventory of such exceptions and submit the same to the office of the President within thirty (30) calendar days from the date of effectivity of this Order.
The Office of the President shall thereafter, immediately circularize the inventory of exceptions for the guidance of all government offices and instrumentalities covered by this Order and the general public.
Said inventory of exceptions shall periodically be updated to properly reflect any change in existing law and jurisprudence and the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General are directed to update the inventory of exceptions as the need to do so arises, for circularization as hereinabove stated.
SECTION 5. Availability of SALN. Subject to the provisions contained in Sections 3 and 4 of this Order, all public officials are reminded of their obligation to file and make available for scrutiny, their Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth in accordance with existing laws, rules and regulations, and the spirit and letter of this Order.
SECTION 6. Application and Interpretation. There shall be a legal presumption in favor of access to information, public records and official records. No request for information shall be denied unless it clearly fals under any of the exceptions listed in the inventory or updated inventory of exceptions circularized by the Office of the President as provided in the preceding section.
The determination of the applicability of any of the exceptions to the request shall be the responsibility of the Head of the Office which is in custody or control of the information, public record or official record, or of the responsible central or field officer duly designatd by him in writing.
In making such determination, the Head of the Office or his designated officer shall exercise reasonable diligence to ensure that no exception shall be used or availed of to deny any request for information or access to public records, or official records if the denial is intended primarily and purposely to cover up a crime, wrongdoing, graft and corruption.
SECTION 7. Protection of Privacy. While providing access to information, public records, and official records, responsibile officials shall afford full protection to the right to privacy of the individual as follows:
(a) Each government office per Section 2 hereof shall ensure that personal information in its custody or under its control is disclosed or released only if it is material or relevant to the subject-matter of the request and its disclosure is permissible under this order or existing law, rules or regulations;
(b) Each government office must protect personal information in its custody or control by making reasonable security arrangements against leaks or premature disclosure of personal information which unduly exposes the individual whose personal information is requested, to virification, harassment or any other wrongful acts; and
(c) Any employee, official or director of a government office per Section 2 hereof who has access, authorized or unauthorized, to personal information in the custody of the office, must not disclose that information except when authorized under this order or pursuant to existing laws, rules or regulation.
SECTION 8. People’s Freedom to Information (FOI) Manual. For the effective implementation of this Order, every government office is directed to prepare within one hundred twenty (120) calendar days from the effectivity of this Order, its own People’s FOI Manual, which shall include among others the following provisions:
(a) The location and contact information of the head, regional, provincial, and field offices, and other established places where the public can obtain information or submit requests;
(b) The person or office responsible for recieving requests for information;
(c) The procedure for the filing and processing of the request as specified in the succeding section 9 of this Order;
(d) The standard forms for the submission of requests and for the proper acknowledgment of requests;
(e) The process for the disposition of requests;
(f) The procedure for the administrative appeal of any denial for access to information; and
(g) The schedule of applicable fees.
SECTION 9. Procedure. The following procedure shall govern the filing and processing of request for access to information:
(a) Any person who requests access to information shall submit a written request to the government office concerned. The request shall state the name and contact information of the requesting party, provide valid proof of his identification or authorization, reasonably describe the information requested, and the reason for, or purpose of, the request for information: Provided, that no request shall be denied or refused acceptance unless the reason for the request is contrary to law, existing rules and regulations or it is one of the exceptions contained in the inventory or updated inventory of exception as hereinabove provided.
(b) The public official receiving the request shall provide reasonable assistance, free of charge, to enable all requesting parties and particularly those with special needs, to comply with the request requirements under this Section.
(c) The request shall be stamped by the government office, indicating the date and time of receipt and the names, rank, title and position of the receiving public officer or employee with the corresponding signature, and a copy thereof furnished to the requesting party. Each government office shall establish a system to trace the status of all requests for information received by it.
(d) The government office shall respond to a request fully compliant with requirements of sub-section (a) hereof as soon as practicable but not exceeding fifteen (15) working days from the receipt thereof. The response mentioned above refers to the decision of the office or office concerned to grant or deny access to the information requested.
(e) The period to respond may be extended whenever the information requested requires extensive search of the government office’s records facilities, examination of voluminous records, the occurrence of fortuitous events or other analogous cases. The government office shall notify the person making the request of the extension, setting forth the reasons for such extension. In no case shall the extension go beyond twenty (20) working days unless exceptional circumstances warrant a longer period.
(f) Once a decision is made to grant the request, the person making the request shall be notified of such decision and directed to pay any applicable fees.
SECTION 10. Fees. Government offices shall not charge any fee for accepting requests for access to information. They may, however, charge a reasonable fee to reimburse necessary costs, including actual costs of reproduction and copying of the information requested, subject to existing rules and regulations. In no case shall the applicable fees be so onerous as to defeat the purpose of this Order.
SECTION 11. Identical or Substantially Similar Requests. The government office shall not be required to act upon an unreasonable subsequent identical or substantially similar request from the same requesting party whose request has already been previously granted or denied by the same government office.
SECTION 12. Notice to Denial. If the government office decides to deny the request, in whole or in part, it shall as soon as practicable, and in any case within fifteen (15) working days from the receipt of the request, notify the requesting party the denial in writing. The notice shall clearly set forth the ground or grounds for denial and the circumstances on which the denial is based. Failure to notify the requesting party of the action taken on the request within the period herein stipulated shall be deemed a denial of the request for access to information.
SECTION 13. Remedies in Cases of Denial of Request for Access to Information.
(a) Denial of any request for access to information may be appealed to the person or office next higher in the authority, following the procedure mentioned in Section 8 (f) of this Order: Provided, that the written appeal must be filed by the same person making the request within fifteen (15) celandar days from the notice of denial or from the lapse of the relevant period to respond to the request.
(b) The appeal shall be decided by the person or office next higher in authority within thirty (30) working days from the filing of said written appeal. Failure of such person or office to decide within the afore-stated period shall be deemed a denial of the appeal.
(c) Upon exhaustion of administrative appeal remedies, the requesting party may file the appropriate case in the proper courts in accordance with the Rules of Court.
SECTION 14. Keeping of Records. Subject to existing laws, rules and regulations, government offices shall create and/or maintain accurate and reasonably complete records of important information in appropriate formats, and implement a records management system that facilitates easy identification, retrieval and communication of information to the public.
SECTION 15. Administrative Liability. Failure to comply with the provisions of this Order may be a ground for administrative and disciplinary sanctions against any erring public officer or employee as provided under existing laws or regulations.
SECTION 16. Implementing Details. All government offices in the Executive Branch are directed to formulate their respective implementing details taking into consideration their mandates and the nature of information in their custody or control, within one hundred twenty (120) days from the effectivity of this Order.
SECTION 17. Separability Clause. If any section or part of this Order is held unconstitutional or invalid, the other sections or provisions not otherwise affected shall remain in full force and effect.
SECTION 18. Repealing Clause. All orders, rules and regulations, issuances or any part thereof inconsistent with the provisions of this Executive Order are hereby repealed, amended or modified accordingly: Provided, that the provisions of Memorandum Circular No. 78 (s. 1964), as amended, shall not be deemed repealed pending further review.
SECTION 19. Effectivity. This Order shall take effect immediately upon publication in a newspaper of general circulation.
Done, in the City of Manila, this day of in the year of our Lord Two Thousand and Sixteen.
SALVADOR C. MEDIALDEA