Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO)
2016 – present
Digitization & New Technologies, and Perspectives on Productivity, Governance, and Development
The eFOI Portal (www.foi.gov.ph), implemented by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), allows users to request any information about government transactions and operations, subject to limitations set by privacy, and national security concerns. Users can also use the portal to track their requests and receive the information that they requested online.
Background and Problem
One of the key indicators of good governance is transparency and citizens’ access to information. It is a universal and fundamental right that is textually committed in both international legal and policy frameworks such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and locally through the 1987 Constitution’s Bill of Rights. As such, legislation that guarantees Freedom of Information (FOI) and democratizes access to government documents is vested with the public interest.
Solution and Impact
On 23 July 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order (EO) No. 2, s. 2016 which provided access to government information within the Executive Branch. Through this order, government agencies are required to submit their People’s FOI Manual that defines how their agency facilitates FOI requests. Particular guidelines regarding appeals, redaction, extraction, and privacy notices have also been issued to further implement the program and comply with existing laws and regulations. The eFOI Portal is the main access point for citizens to access the government information guaranteed by the FOI EO.
Other means of policy enforcement and monitoring include:
- FOI Awards to recognize efforts of agencies, individuals, and organizations who contributed to the FOI program;
- Inclusion of FOI program requirements in the Performance-Based Bonus (PBB) Compliance;
- FOI Quarterly Registry and Summary Sheet accomplished by FOI Receiving Officers as the basis for measuring agency performance and compliance;
- eFOI Portal Audit Monitoring System to check whether personally identifiable information has been posted in the eFOI portal;
- Records Management System – Agency Information Inventory which includes a master list of all the information they hold, store, maintain, and archive; and
- Feedback mechanism includes Events Feedback Form, eFOI Portal Report feature, and the FOI Facebook page.
Various types of information can be requested by the public through the eFOI Portal, including official records, public records, documents on official acts, transactions, or decisions, and government data used as a basis for policy development. For such requests, FOI Receiving Officers and Decision Makers’ standard processing time for a request is 15 working days. In some instances, an agency may need more time to review a person’s request and thereby extend the processing time. Under such circumstances, an agency will inform him/her of an extension, which shall not be longer than 20 working days, for a total of 35 working days.
Diagram on the process of making an FOI request (Source: FOI Philippines)
eFOI Website (Source: FOI Philippines)
A total of 543 government units were included in the eFOI Portal in 2021, including 186 out of 188 (or 99%) National Government Agencies (NGAs), 100 out of 107 (or 93%) Government-Owned and/or -Controlled Corporations (GOCCs), 108 out of 111 (or 97%) State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), and 260 out of 520 (or 50%) Local Water Districts (LWDs). This is up from 447 units in 2019. Of the registered government agencies that are in the eFOI Portal, the top five agencies comprised 27% of the total number of requests:
- Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) with 4,761 requests;
- Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) with 4,414 requests;
- Department of Health (DOH) with 4,086 requests;
- Social Security System Development (SSS) with 3,478 requests; and,
- Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) with 3,457 requests.
The eFOI Portal has also been extended beyond the executive branch to include other government institutions such as the judiciary, constitutional commissions, and even various local government units (LGUs). As of the 15 September 2021 FOI report, 57 LGUs had successfully passed their FOI ordinances.
In five years of implementation, there have been a total of 73,860 requests lodged to 543 government agencies by 48,005 registered users of the eFOI Portal.
“Kung noon kailangan may kakilala ka sa loob, ngayon pantay-pantay na lahat. [Before a person should have a connection inside the agency but now, anyone has equal opportunity.] I got my updates on my appointment papers from the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Justice within 10 days.” – Clark Nino, Cagigas Parole and Probation Administration, Cebu City
“Dahil naisapubliko na ang kopya ng Concession Agreement ng LRT1 sa pagitan ng LRTA at LRMC, natuldukan na ang mga haka-haka noon. Kung wala ang FOI, malamang ay baon pa rin sa misteryo ang taumbayan tungkol sa mga pinapasok na kontrata ng pamahalaan.” [Because the copy of the Concession Agreement of LRTI between LRTA and LRMC was publicized, the speculations stopped. If the FOI did not exist, the government contract remains mysterious to the public.] – Franz Zildjian B. Zulueta, BS in Information Systems student of De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde
2018 FOI Awards and Summit (Source: FOI Philippines)
2019 FOI Mid-year Conference (Source: FOI Philippines)
FOI-Project Management Office (FOI-PMO) (Source: FOI Philippines)
Presidential Communications Operations Office (2019). 2018/19 Freedom of Information (FOI) Annual Report: Making waves as the cornerstone of democracy
Presidential Communications Operations Office (n.d.). Freedom of Information. FOI Official Website. Retrieved from https://www.foi.gov.ph/
Presidential Communications Operations Office. (2021, September 15). Status of Implementation of Executive Order No. 2, S. 2016 or The Freedom of Information (FOI) Program in the Executive Branch as of 15 September 2021. Ermita. Retrieved from: https://www.foi.gov.ph/requests/aglzfmVmb2ktcGhyHgsSB0NvbnRlbnQiEVBDT08tNzI0NDc2NjgwMTA0DA