Records of surveillance of suspects as well as recordings of communications acquired pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 are now included in the list of exemption from the right to access information from the Executive department.
Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin recently issued Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 15, expanding the inventory of exceptions to Executive Order (EO) No. 2 (series of 2016), which was issued by former President Rodrigo R. Duterte to provide greater transparency in the Executive department.
Bersamin noted the Inter-Agency Freedom of Information Exceptions Policy Committee (IA-FOI-EPC), through its resolutions No. 2021-002 and the 2022-001, recommended the updated list.
Among the salient changes in the provisions of MC 15 are information related to the Anti-Terrorism Act.
It also banned the processing of requests for information in connection with investigations conducted by the now defunct Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. abolished PACC last July as part of his administration’s efforts to streamline government operations.
Other new inclusions to the list of exemptions are records of cases and documents involving actions for support, including petitions of recognition and enforcement of foreign decisions or judgment of support; cases of gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment, including information on the victim and the accused who is a minor; and the children in situation of armed conflict.
The Executive department will also not entertain request for information of registered persons with the Philippine Identification System; investigation proceedings and records during the preliminary investigation in administrative cases in the civil services; information on a bank inquiry orders issued by the Court of Appeals, including its contents and its receipt; and failure to comply with regulations on access of records imposed by the records custodian.
Bersamin instructed the new list under MC 15 to be disseminated to all government offices and instrumentalities and the general public for its implementation.
“The foregoing list of exceptions shall be without prejudice to existing laws, jurisprudence, rules or regulations authorizing the disclosure of the excepted information upon satisfaction of certain conditions in certain cases, such as the consent of the concerned party or as may be ordered by the courts,” Bersamin said.