Manila: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered all agencies directly under his watch to open their records to the public as part of his promise to crack down on corruption and promote transparency in government. Legislation is still needed, however, to ensure other branches of government will do the same.
The last Congress adjourned without passing a new law, the Freedom of Information (FOI) act, even though Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino had backed the idea. Duterte signed an executive order on Saturday to allow public access to official documents and records, two days before he delivers a much-anticipated state of the nation address.
He is expected to reiterate a pledge to weed out corrupt officials and tackle crime. Success in tackling corruption and criminality, he has said, should bring benefits on many fronts, including lowering poverty, improving government finances and making the country more attractive for investment. Martin Andanar, the president's communication chief, said Duterte's order would be welcomed by "every Filipino soul who has fought tooth and nail" for the right to information.
One of the biggest promoters of the law was Duterte's election rival, Senator Grace Poe, who on Sunday urged the president to waste no time and press a new incoming legislature to pass the act. (Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Martin Petty, Robert Birsel)