Gov’t assures transparency amid Covid-19 pandemic

Transparency remains a priority of the Duterte administration as the country is braving trying times brought by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) said in a news release issued on May 22, 2020.

With PHP275 billion in emergency funds, President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to dedicate this money to mitigate virus transmission and keep the economy running, the PCOO said.

It noted that in a public address on May 19, 2020, the President guaranteed Filipinos that he would account for every centavo spent in addressing the public health crisis in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

“I assure you, we will be able to account for it,” Duterte said, adding that it would be better if the people are aware where the billions are allotted.

A huge chunk of the PHP275 billion is allocated to aid the poorest families and sustain vulnerable sectors of society through the government’s various stimulus packages.

As prescribed by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the President’s eighth weekly report has been submitted to Congress and can also be viewed in the Laging Handa PH website’s Accomplishment and Transparency Tracker.

The PCOO said that as public information is now vital more than ever, the government’s freedom of information platform becomes more relevant and significant to the public.

It said the President’s transparency banner is his Executive Order 2, series of 2016, or the Freedom of Information (FOI), that enables a Filipino citizen to request government information.

The PCOO leads the implementation of the FOI Program with its FOI Champion, PCOO Secretary Martin M. Andanar.

It has specially designated the FOI Project Management Office (FOI PMO), under the leadership of PCOO Assistant Secretary and FOI Program Director Kristian R. Ablan, to oversee and monitor the compliance of government agencies under the executive branch.

As a testament to FOI’s importance as one of the government’s transparency efforts, Ablan said, “The information owned by the government is ultimately owned by the people. The information generated comes from taxpayers’ money. The people have the right to know where their taxes go.” (PCOO)