June 2, 2023

The municipality of Kibungan, Benguet has passed an ordinance providing guidelines for the Freedom of Information policy.
In Ordinance 92, s 2019, the municipality recognizes the importance of the people’s right to government information.
“Every Filipino resident shall 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 basis for policy development in the custody of the municipal government of Kibungan or any of its offices,” the ordinance read. 
It stated that no request for information shall be denied unless it falls under any of the exceptions in the inventory of FOI exceptions.
Each office is directed to prepare a local inventory of FOI exceptions and submit it to the sangguniang bayan within 30 calendar days from the date the ordinance takes effect.
The office head or the designated officer shall be responsible in determining the applicability of any of the exceptions to the request since it is the one in custody of the information being requested.
The ordinance also mandates each office to ensure protection of privacy, that personal information in its custody shall be released only if it is relevant to the subject matter of the request.
It shall also see to it that security arrangements are made when releasing information to avoid premature disclosure of personal information or leaks that might expose an individual to wrongful acts.
Residents who want to request information shall submit a written request to the concerned office. The individuals shall include their names, contact information, provide valid proof of identification or authorization, describe the information requested, and purpose in requesting for the information.
The assistance is free of charge.
The request will be stamped by the concerned office indicating the date and time of receipt and the name, rank, title and position of the FOI receiving officer with the corresponding signature and a copy given to the requesting party.
The concerned office will respond within 15 working days, which may be or depending on the nature of the requested information, but not more than 20 days unless in exceptional circumstances.
Fees shall be applicable only for printing, photocopying and certification services rendered by an office in accordance with the Municipal Revenue Ordinance and other issuances.
In cases of denial of request, it may be appealed to the Mayor’s Office within 15 days from the issuance of notice of denial.
The appeal will then be decided by the Office of the Mayor within 30 working days. The requesting person may file the appropriate case in the proper courts, upon exhaustion of administrative appeals.
The ordinance is under review by the Benguet provincial board. – Ofelia C. Empian