More Filipinos are becoming more engaged in transparency after the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) revealed that its Freedom of Information (FOI) online portal has received over 12,000 requests in the past nine months.

000 8Q33CC - More Filipinos seeking info on gov’t COVID-19 response
(Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)

In a statement, Communications Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan bared that most of the requests the electronic FOI (e-FOI) portal have received were about the government’s programs to address and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Ablan, this shows that more Filipinos value information especially at the time of a global health crisis.

“Patunay lamang ito na napakahalaga ng impormasyon sa mga Pilipino upang patuloy nilang malampasan ang mga pagsubok na dulot ng kasalukuyang pandemya (This only proves that information is very important to the Filipinos to overcome the challenges brought about by the current pandemic),” he said.

Ablan said that despite various quarantine restrictions and measures experienced throughout the country, 490 agencies of the government continue to respond to these requests, most of them inquiring on the COVID-19 programs and responses.

Among these agencies were the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for its distribution of emergency cash aid under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP); Social Security System (SSS) for its calamity loan; Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) for its labor force assistance; and the Department of Health (DoH) for up-to-date health information and data.

Ablan, who also serves as FOI project management office director, said that there are now more than 41,200 requests received in the portal since its launch in 2016.

“Unti-unti na pong natutuklasan ng ating mga kababayan ang kapakinabangan ng ating electronic FOI portal o ang e-FOI portal simula noong ating i-launch (Filipinos are now discovering the advantage of using the electronic FOI portal since we launched it),” he said.

The e-FOI portal is the government’s digital platform for citizens to ask information to the government, and for the government agencies to respond to these requests by providing timely and relevant information, records, and documents. 

Ablan urged the public to exercise their right to information and use the e-FOI portal.

“Patuloy ang aming panawagan sa ating mga kababayan na makisangkot sa gawain ng ating pamahalaan, sa pamamagitan ng FOI program. Dahil tayong mga Pilipino, may alam at may pakialam (We continue to call on our fellow Filipinos to participate in the activities of our government through the FOI program. Because we, Filipinos, must know and we care),” he said. 

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