Transparency and accountability are closely linked and are important requisites to governance—that is, people in government can be held accountable for their actions and decisions. Government performance and financial transactions need to be assessed and verified, but this would be difficult to do unless there are opportunities to scrutinize public documents and financial records.
There have been efforts to legislate a Freedom of Information (FOI) law that mandates government to open public records for scrutiny. However, there are issues that continue to stall its passage – i.e., (1) the disclosure of public contracts/agreements, funds and guarantees provided to private sector, (2) the exemptions from FOI due to “national security,” and (3) the inclusion of the “Right to Reply” provisions.
This paper also discusses the experiences of other countries concerning their respective FOI laws. Lessons drawn from these experiences can potentially help the Philippines face up to its own challenges and ensure FOI’s implementation success.