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    Posted March 11, 2014 by

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    Philippine senator hails FOI bill

    PHILIPPINE Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Tuesday hailed the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill in the Senate, which includes the amendments she proposed.
    The senator earlier asked Senator Grace Poe, sponsor of the bill, to include in the FOI bill the mandatory disclosure of the statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) and the monthly income of top government officials.
    Pursuant to Santiago's amendment, the approved bill mandates all government agencies to publish and make available for download in their respective websites the following information:
    1. Audited financial statements, and budget and expenditure records of the respective government agencies;
    2. The SALN of public officials with salary grade 27 and above, pursuant to Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees; and
    3. Monthly income, including allowances and sources of income, of all public officials with salary grade 27 and above.
    Santiago, author of the proposed Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom, said government should maximize the use of the internet and information and communications technology (ICT) in disseminating information, and promoting transparency in governance.
    "Government agencies should provide for and maintain their own websites which would allow the public to view and download public information on the plans, policies, programs, and relevant documents and records of their office," Santiago said.
    Another Santiago amendment that was included in the final version of the bill was that excluding sensitive personal information, such as an individual's health records, sexual life, and religious, philosophical or political affiliations, from the coverage of the right to information under the FOI bill.
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