Committed to advocating for transparency in government, the Right to Know, Right Now! (R2KRN) Coalition rolled out its second Summary Report on the Freedom of Information (FOI) Request for government’s COVID-19 response and operations.
“Almost a month after President Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Law, it is important for us to inform the public about what has been done so far, and what the government still needs to work on. Summary Report Number 2 represents our commitment to our fellow Filipinos who have the same right to access to information, to keep track of what the government has been doing to stop COVID-19,” R2KRN co-convenor Jenina Joy Chavez said.
The R2KRN summary report highlighted key developments over the course of the past 29 days since the signing of Bayanihan Law. These include the transparency calls and actions of government agencies, new data and information releases by different offices, and other initiatives spearheaded by civil society organizations and other groups.
The report covers the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) posting of the masterlists of SAP beneficiaries which was part of the call for transparency led by R2KRN together with COVID19 Action Network, Stop COVID-19 Coalition, Sin Tax Coalition; the launching of Department of Health (DOH) open data format database on COVID-19 cases which was not the case before; links to important hotlines and resource materials were out as a result of the launching of COVID-19 Healthy Pilipinas website, the LGU vs COVID PH on a new website designed to equip local governments with information in the fight against COVID-19. The website was initiated by Ms. Golda and Carla Benjamin, and was supported by The Asia Foundation.
While there are other important data/documents that are still yet to be published, Chavez said that the coalition takes recognition of these developments.
Chavez also emphasized that the report can be used to change the narrative on FOI.
“The Summary Report is a way to break the misconception that FOI is just focused on putting the government in a bad light. In fact, FOI could be a tool to let Filipinos know that our government is indeed taking steps to fight COVID-19, and is taking care of us as best as it can. FOI is still our best recourse to demand accountability from government,” she said.
Seven days after the launching of the FOI Request Tracker which mainly focuses on the information released by Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), including the Departments of Health, Labor and Employment, Social Welfare and Development, and Agriculture last April 7, 2020, the coalition published its first Summary Report highlighting important points such as the push for FOI, major databases and information platforms that were available to the public increased transparency for government information, with a need for improvement in other areas, and other groups and individuals who are on the lookout as well. The tracker was launched for the public to easily monitor the FOI request dated March 29 and April 6, 2020 asking for relevant information related to the work of the aforementioned agencies.