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Philippines: Public Access to Presidential Records Sought
Source: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com
Source Date: Sunday, October 10, 2010
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Citizen Engagement
Country: Philippines
Created: Oct 10, 2010

Senate Bill No. 1528, also known as the Presidential Records Act, aims to set the management, custody, and access to Presidential records consistent with the constitutional mandate of transparency and accountability in government, she said.

Transparency and accountability in the Presidency are cornerstones of good governance amid the Aquino administration's first 100 in power, Santiago said in a press statement Saturday.

"The Constitution mandates transparency in policy-making and in the operations of the government," she said.

"Armed with information on matters of public concern, citizens can participate in public discussions leading to the formulation of government policies and their effective implementation. An informed citizenry is essential to the existence and proper functioning of any democracy."

She cited a Supreme Court ruling that states: "The right to information goes hand in hand with the constitutional policies of full public disclosure and honesty in the public service. It is meant to enhance the widening role of the citizenry in governmental decision-making as well as in checking abuse in government."

Santiago, however, stressed that her bill does not either seek to confirm, limit, or expand the President's executive privilege.

The bill gives the state the complete ownership, possession, and control of Presidential records.

It also requires the President to take all steps necessary to assure that all the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of his or her duties are properly documented, the senator said.

It also grants the director of the National Archives the responsibility over the custody, control, preservation, and access to the Presidential records upon the conclusion of the chief executive’s term of office, she added.

The National Archives director will be required to make the records available to the public as rapidly and completely as possible.
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