Open Data site won’t delay passage of FOI bill, Palace official says

By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, Jan 20 (PNA) — The launch of the national government’s Open Data Philippines website will not delay the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, a Malacanang official said Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, in a Palace briefing, raised the issue following rumors that the Open Data Philippines site contributed to the delay in the FOI bill’s passage.

“We would like to ask those who would like to deface this Open Data Philippines, it is a step towards transparency and accountability,” Lacierda said. “We hope they won’t attack it.”

Open Data Philippines (www.data.gov.ph) is a website that allows public to readily access national government information, which was launched by President Benigno S. Aquino last week.

He cited Communications Secretary, Herminio Coloma Jr., who said that Pres. Aquino has been “circumspect” in using his powers to declare a certain bill urgent.

“He (the President) wants to follow it according to what the constitution intends an urgent bill to be certified,” he said. “That is our guiding principle.”

Lacierda also said that although it may seem like the two will “intersect”, the Open Data and FOI law each serve a different purpose–while the Open Data Philippines is supply driven, the FOI law is demand driven.

“We’re not afraid of any secrets. We’re very open about it,” he said. “This is an administration where you saw a number of data coming out.”

“All the national concerns, we never shied away from disclosing what the public deserves to know,” he added, saying that it was only during the Aquino administration when Open Data was introduced.

The Malacanang official also said that the early passage of the bill will still depend on the legislative branch.

“Institutionalizing the FOI is the work of Congress,” he said. “You’ve (already) seen the determination of the Executive Branch.” (PNA)