REVISITING THE MILESTONES, REINVENTING THE FUTURE: Celebrating Five (5) Years of FOI Implementation in the Philippines


Established in 2016, the Philippines had its very own Freedom of Information (FOI) Program through Executive Order No. 2 (EO 2), s. 2016--and important milestone in the three (3) decade-long fight for FOI tracing its beginnings in 1987 during the 8th Congress. Since then, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), through the FOI Project Management Office (FOI PMO), has been given the task of overseeing and monitoring its implementation and ensuring that Filipinos are better informed, engaged, and empowered through increased access to information.

Over the years, the PCOO has made remarkable strides in creating ripples and waves of positive and transformative change -- improving the FOI landscape through the development of policies, monitoring compliance, building partnerships, conducting capacity-building activities, which uphold and strenghthen the people's constitutionally mandated right at a time where situations and expectations are continuosly changing.

As we look back and reflect on the past five (5) years, it is only imperative to convene once more those who have significantly contributed to shaping the narrative of transparency, accountability, and good governance in the public sector. Hence, the PCOO is set to hold the 2021 FOI SUMMIT with a theme, Revisiting the Milestones, Reinventing the Future: Celebrating Five (5) Years of FOI Implementation in the Philippines, on 23 November 2021 in Radisson Blu, Cebu City. The Summit's primary objectives are to inform the public of the FOI Program's successes and challenges since its inception, to engage and empower key stakeholders and FOI practitioners in the discussion about how conversations on access to information have evolved, and to explore the various shifts in approaches that have been and must be taken to advance a comprehensive legislation on FOI.

The 2021 FOI Summit is an annual event which aims to build on what has already been accomplished and the work that still needs to be done by the PCOO together with the help of its partners in advancing the FOI advocacy. This will also serve as a platform for dialogue, exchange of ideas and shared aims between and among open government champions and advocates in the National and Local government, civil society organizations, academe, private sector, media, local and international development partners, and representatives from Congress.

200 participants are expected to attend the Summit, which will adopt a hybrid format, combining in-person and virtual components, in observance of minimum standard health protocols for COVID-19. The plenary session will also be broadcasted via Facebook Live. Two (2) main activities will take place during the Summit, which are as follows:

Plenary: To kick-off the Summit, a plenary session will lay down the foundation and set the context to reflect on the past, present, and future of FOI towards a sustained and enhanced transparent, accountable, and participatory governance. This will also allow the participants to forge and establish meaningful connections across all networks and sectors involved in the advocacy of access to information.

Panel Sessions: Online and offline participants will participate in panel sessions that will delve into the Summit's subthemes to allow for targeted discussions, exchange of ideas, sharing of experiences and, debate the future of FOI in the Philippines.