ILOILO CITY -- The island province of Guimaras is making a legislative and executive move to show its support for transparency and open governance, one of the thrusts of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration.
In his speech during the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) roadshow at the Guimaras State College on Thursday, Governor Samuel Gumarin said the province is giving the public access to government-held information.
The PCOO roadshow is aimed at enlightening participants on the current programs of the administration to attain transparency and accountability in government.
"Access to information is the basic requirement for the public's participation in governance," Gumarin said.
He said the committee on rules and ordinances of the 9th Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) has been pushing for the Freedom of Information (FOI) Ordinance.
The committee has already conducted its first hearing last January 30, he added.
The legislative action is supported by the executive branch as Gumarin passed in 2019 Executive Order 62, which created the Guimaras Information Network as the lead core team to operationalize the localization of the FOI in Guimaras.
"This initiative will ensure the free flow of information and ideas that is the very notion of democracy and is crucial in achieving the mission of the province of Guimaras to improve the quality of life of the Guimarasnons through responsive and participatory governance," he said.
The FOI program is a government mechanism that enables citizens to make a formal request to get information held by the government, lawyer Tristan de Guzman, chief for policy, planning, and support division of the PCOO-FOI, said during his presentation at the roadshow.
The FOI mandates government offices across the Executive Branch to disclose information on government transactions and operations requested by a member of the public, de Guzman said.
Juanita Tanaleon, one of the participants in the multi-sectoral roadshow, expressed her gratitude to the government for keeping its transactions open to the public.
As president of senior citizens in San Isidro village, Sibunag town, the 84-year-old Tanaleon said a senior citizen is also concerned with the processes and information from the government.
"In my 84 years, it is my first time to attend this information caravan. I am glad that we have these programs and I will tell my constituents about FOI when I go back to San Isidro," she said in an interview.
Tanaleon said she wants to be empowered with information, particularly from the Department of Health, as it can help them in their needs as senior citizens. (PNA)