By Riza Lozada
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was awarded as the sole FOI Champion agency for its outstanding commitment in ensuring transparency in public service in the recently concluded 2017 Freedom of Information (FOI) annual awards. Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno along with Undersecretary Lilia Guillermo, received the award in behalf of the agency during the recognition ceremony held at the Rizal Park Hotel.
Presiding over the awarding ceremony were Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Sec. Martin Andanar and Asec. Kristian Ablan, as well as Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy of Bagong Henerasyon Party List presented the awards to the recognized agencies, departments, local government units (LGUs), and government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs).
The FOI program was launched on November 25, 2016, pursuant to Executive Order 2 upholding Freedom of Information in the executive branch of government.
DBM is one of the 15 pilot agencies during the launch of the program and the subsequent roll-out of the eFOI platform.
After one year, the number of FOI participating agencies has increased from 15 to 217, a proof of this administration’s commitment to preserve and defend the people’s constitutional right to information.
DBM’s FOI Team is composed of a total of 58 FOI officers, with Usec. Lilia C. Guillermo leading the team as DBM’s FOI Champion.
The Central Office team was formed on November 2016, right after FOI-MC 1, s. 2016 was circulated.
Immediately after, on February 2017, the FOI Officers of the Regional Offices were designated.
Since the launch, DBM has become one of the top requested agencies in the eFOI portal, receiving and processing a total of 153 requests as of November 2017.
Consistent with the goals of the FOI, the DBM is also committed to the Philippine Open Government Partnership (PH-OGP), which is now implementing its 4th National Action Plan (2017-2019).
One of the objectives included in this Action Plan is the passage of legislation on access to information, with the FOI as its benchmark program.
The passage of the FOI Law shall mandate the disclosure of government information from all three branches of the government to the general public.
Through the OGP platform, the FOI has been introduced in multi-stakeholder consultations, peer learning sessions, assessment workshops, international conferences, and other partnership and linkage-building activities that further promoted and enhanced the FOI Program implementation.
“The DBM joins the rest of the administration in ensuring accountability in public service through an informed citizenry. Trust that this agency will continue to uphold transparency and citizen participation, towards the realization of better governance and real change,” Diokno said.