Palace vows to take out red tape in SALN disclosures
THE PRESIDENTIAL Communications Operations Office (PCOO) vowed on Wednesday, Feb. 14, that it would recommend to the Office of the President (OP) the immediate public disclosure of the statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALNs) of government officials.
“We will recommend to proactively disclose the SALN of officials. The recommendation will include a manifestation that SALN is one of the most frequently requested documents,” PCOO Assistant Secretary and Freedom of Information (FoI) Program Director Kristian R. Ablan said in a press briefing at Malacañang.
Mr. Ablan made this pronouncement when questioned why the current administration is imposing another level of bureaucracy on the distribution of SALN copies to the media.
Palace reporters noted that SALN documents were automatically distributed to them without an FoI directive in the previous administration.
Meanwhile, the PCOO also announced that it is considering organizing an FoI Advisory Committee, which will be tasked to provide “strategic policy direction and oversee the implementation of the FoI Program.”
The Committee “will be composed of government representatives and nongovernment representatives,” Mr. Ablan said.
He added: “From the government: PCOO as Chair; the Department of Justice; the Department of Budget and Management; the Department of Information and Communications Technology; the National Privacy Commission; the National Archives of the Philippines; one representative from the Senate; and, one representative from the House of Representatives.”
Mr. Ablan said representatives from the business sector, the academe, civil society, and the media will constitute the nongovernment members of the committee.
Mr. Ablan said the PCOO is focusing on “expanding the program to local government units (LGUs) with the help of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) through the promotion of local FoI Ordinances.”
On Feb. 28, the PCOO will conduct “an in-depth orientation for the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) to provide more details on how to access government information.”
Mr. Ablan reported that the PCOO’s “FoI portal, www. foi.gov. ph, now has 3,253 online requests for information lodged for 218 national government agencies (NGAs) and government-owned and/or -controlled corporations (GOCCs) currently onboard the platform. Out of these requests, 32% have been facilitated successfully and 37% are currently being processed.”
“[ W]e remain hopeful that the FoI Bill will be passed to further strengthen this administration’s efforts in promoting transparency, accountability, and citizen participation,” he added.