Palace lists nine exceptions to FOI executive order

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 24 2016 04:01 PM

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks upon his arrival at Davao International Airport in Davao city, Philippines, after returning from a leaders' summit in Peru of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), November 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lean Daval Jr

The Office of the President has come up with a list of nine exceptions to the executive order on Freedom of Information (FOI) in the executive branch.

Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan said the previous initial draft list of 166 exceptions was just "an inventory of different exceptions by statute and by jurisprudence" and that exceptions of other countries were later adopted.

 "Since then, we adopted [the list of]… other countries which categorized and grouped the several exceptions into major categories and in all of our FOI workshops, we were able to share to them that Australia only has nine exceptions, the US also has nine exceptions, and the Philippines, under EO No. 2 will have nine exceptions," Ablan said.
 
A memorandum circular will be signed by the Executive Secretary to reflect the following exceptions, " as recognized by the Constitution, existing laws or jurisprudence."
 
1. Information covered by executive privilege
2. Privileged information relating to national security, defense, or international relations
3. Information concerning law enforcement and protection of public and personal safety
4. Information deemed confidential for the protection of the privacy and certain individuals such as minors, victims of crimes or the accused
5. 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 and boards or officers, in relation to the performance of their functions or to inquires or investigation conducted by them in the exercise of their administrative, regulatory or quasi-judicial powers.
6. Prejudicial, premature disclosure
7. Records of proceedings or information from proceedings which pursuant to law or relevant rules and regulations are treated as confidential or privileged
8. Matters considered confidential under banking and finance laws and their amendatory laws, and;
9. Other exceptions to the right to information under laws, jurisprudence, and rules and regulations.
 
A number of government agencies have come up with FOI manuals detailing the procedures for FOI requests in their respective agencies. The manuals will be turned over in a ceremony tomorrow, along with the launch of "the electronic FOI or e-FOI," an online facility where citizens can "lodge their applications online."
 
So far, 15 agencies are included to pilot-test the beta system of the e-FOI. The Palace is hoping to implement a "government-wide implementation" the e-FOI by 2017 or 2018. Ablan said citizens who have queries on FOI with these 15 agencies can visit the website address www.foi.gov.ph.
 
"If you have queries and you want to lodge it online, it has to be limited to the 15 agencies. Outside the 15 agencies, then you have to go through the normal standard, paper-based process of going to the nearest government office in lodging your application there," he said. 
 
The 15 agencies on board the e-FOI so far include the Presidential Communications Operations Office, Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Finance, Department of Justice, Department of Transportation, Department of Health, Philippine Statistics Authority, National Archives of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, PhilHealth, Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, Presidential Commission on Good Government, the Office of the Solicitor General, and the Public Attorneys Office.

Malacañang earlier announced that the FOI would take effect on Friday.