Philippines Journalism Center Sees Mixed Access Picture

2 May 2011

There are a few signs of more transparency since President Benigno  Aquino came to power nearly a year ago, but in most parts of the government “a predilection for opaqueness lingers and more barriers to access have been imposed,” according to a new report by the Philippines Center for Investigative Journalism.

“Indeed, because Mr. Aquino’s testimonials to transparency have only been verbalized and not operationalized, drift and confusion mark the access to information regime across the bureaucracy today. While a few agencies stand out as exemplars of transparency, the majority remain stuck in the old ways of opaque government, with some even sliding back into darker corners.”

The report singles out for criticism the Office of the President and the nation’s top integrity office, the Office of the Ombudsman, calling them “the most barren fields for harvesting information and documents, particularly on the wealth of senior public officials.”

PCIJ filed 35 requests for copies of the Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of senior government officials and other related materials. Only 20 of the 35 requests that the PCIJ made were granted, “making for a poor 57-percent approval rate.”

PCIJ also pubished a  lengthy review of the troubled recent history of the FOI legislation, written by Jaemark Tordecilla.

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