Sen. Gregorio Honasan II, Chairman of the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, presented the salient features of the Freedom of Information Bill during the Mindanao Communicators Congress and Workshop on November 29, 2012. Participants of the said congress were government information officers from Regions IX, X, XI, XII, CARAGA, and ARMM.
The FOI Bill, according to Honasan, aims to hasten the process by which the public is able to access government information therefore promoting a culture of ‘openness in the government’. Honasan noted the presumption that the people, for so long, feel alienated from the government by holding back information. With FOI, Honasan said, disclosure of government information will not only be a matter of transparency but a matter of duty.


“We must ensure that public access to information serves the public interest. Ang impormasyon, pag aari ng tao,” Hon. Honasan said.
However, Honasan cited instances with which public access may be disallowed as stated in the FOI Bill:     revelation of the information will create a clear and present danger of war, invasion or any external threat to the State; unduly weaken the negotiating position of the government in an ongoing bilateral or multilateral negotiation or seriously jeopardize the diplomatic relations of the Philippines; among others.
“Once information is transparent, there is a risk of abuse; FOI is not pure liberty, it is responsibility,” Honasan reminded the communicators.
MindaCom Network members, with their President Efren Elbanbuena of PIA XI, expressed their support to FOI by passing a resolution to urge the congress and the senate to pass the Bill and to make public information office mandatory to all government units and line agencies.
2012 Mindanao Communicators Congress and Workshop themed Communicating Mindanao’s Opportunities and Best Practices ran on November 28-30.

Jezereel Louise C. Billano