MANILA — More opportunities await cities and municipalities that will pass a Freedom of Information (FOI) ordinance, a ranking Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) official said Wednesday.
“Having a transparency ordinance or FOI ordinance will enable a municipality to get more funding from the government, from banks, and other sources. It’s a transparency tool,” PCOO Assistant Secretary and FOI-Program Management Office (FOI-PMO) Director Kristian Ablan told the Philippine News Agency on the sidelines of the 2019 FOI mid-year conference in Manila.
“When lenders or the government know you’re transparent, they’ll know they can trust you with their money. Hopefully, those other local government units thinking of improving their services, maybe they’d also want to adopt a transparency ordinance,” he added.
Although efforts to promote the FOI program is continued, a “big gap” remains in this government initiative, Ablan bared.
“The big gap is the exclusion of the judiciary, the Congress, independent Constitutional commissions, and LGUs. When a person looks at the government, he/she looks at the totality of the government,” he pointed out.
“All of these offices should have a transparency program in place,” he added.
According to the official, less than 20 LGUs have adopted a transparency ordinance voluntarily.
Pakil, a municipality in Laguna, is among those few that has its own FOI ordinance.
To encourage more LGUs to follow suit, Pakil Mayor Vincent Soriano, one of the conference panelists, said the PCOO should make a representation with the Department of the Interior and Local Government to include the passage of an FOI ordinance as a requirement to bag a Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG).
“To receive a Seal of Good Local Governance is very tough. You really need to satisfy a lot of criteria and if you include this as one the requirements before they pass the evaluation and the assessment of the SGLG, I think a lot of the LGUs will pass their FOI ordinance,” the mayor said. Joyce Ann L. Rocamora / PNA – northboundasia.com