The Philippine Star – Comelec opens poll records to public scrutiny

By Mayen Jaymalin | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Poll-related records are now open to public scrutiny as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) adopted the Freedom of Information (FOI) policy.

In a resolution, the Comelec adopted the FOI policy as ordered by President Duterte in 2016.

“The adoption of this Freedom of Information Manual with reference to Executive Order No. 2, Series of 2016 is purely a policy decision on the part of the Commission, voluntarily imposing upon itself the tenets of FOI in pursuance of its mandate as the vanguard of democracy and guardian of the people’s voice,” it said.

“The Comelec has always maintained the principle of transparency, accountability and full disclosure of its affairs pursuant to Sec. 7, Article III of the Constitution,” the resolution added.

As a result, all Filipinos now have access to information, official records, public records, and documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as to government research data used as the basis for policy development.

Likewise, statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) of poll officials and employees are also available for scrutiny, as provided by existing laws.

However, information covered by executive privilege, related to national security and law enforcement, deemed confidential for the protection of the privacy of persons, prejudicial premature disclosure, and matters considered confidential under banking laws, among others, are excluded from the FOI policy.

To access information from the Comelec, individuals need to submit a written request stating the purpose of requiring the specific information.

If a requesting party is unable to make a written request due to illiteracy or a disability, an oral request can be made and the receiving officer shall reduce it into writing.

Applicable fees based on the requested information as well as its reproduction cost will be charged to the requesting party.

Comelec shall respond to the request within 15 working days following the date of receipt.

A denied request may be appealed to a designated FOI appeals panel.

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