COTABATO CITY – A proposed Freedom of Information bill received a positive response from the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament.
BTA Parliament Bill No. 83 or the proposed “Bangsamoro Freedom of Information Act of 2021” was filed by Members of Parliament (MP) Amilbahar Mawallil and Deputy Minority Floor Leader Baintan Ampatuan on Tuesday, March 16.
The bill seeks to implement the people’s right to information in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“We believe that our people deserve to know how the regional government works. They have the right to know its dealings,” MP Mawallil said in a statement.
“We owe it to our people to be transparent about the operations of the regional government,” he added.
Through Bill No. 83, every person shall have the right to access, examine, and copy information, official records, public records under the custody or control of the Bangsamoro Government, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions.
Under the proposed bill, all offices in the Bangsamoro Government shall automatically disclose the following public records on their respective official websites:
• Audited financial statements
• Annual budget reports
• Itemized monthly collections and disbursements
• Summaries of income and expenditures
• Revenue targets and actual collections
• Statements of debt services
• Annual procurement plans and procurement lists
• Building processes, deadlines, and requirements
• Items to bid
• Bid results on civil works, goods and services, and consulting services
• Supplemental procurement plans, if any
• Loans, grants, development assistance, technical assistance, and programs from domestic and foreign financial institutions
• Development plans, investment programs, detailed engineering design, standard specifications, performance targets, and accomplishments, manuals of operation, programs and projects, and their implementation guidelines
• Executive issuances (executive orders, memoranda, administrative orders, proclamations)
The Bangsamoro Information and Communications Technology Office (BICTO) shall be mandated to monitor websites of all the offices of the Bangsamoro Government, and provide appropriate support.
On the other hand, the Bangsamoro Information Office (BIO) shall be designated as the Freedom of Information Focal Office which shall oversee the implementation of the provisions of the act. The BIO shall also be tasked to develop standard forms for the submission of requests and for the proper acknowledgement of such requests.
BIO shall also prepare a Right to Information Manual which shall be readily available to the public at no charge.
“There is really a need to institutionalize transparency mechanism in the region, and we believe that an FIO law will provide structure and administrative support for the people who have the right to access to information that is vital to their daily lives,” MP Mawallil said.
Co-authors of the bill include Minority Floor Leader Laisa Alamia, Deputy Minority leaders Suharto Ambolodto and Rasol Mitmug Jr., and MPs Don Mustapha Loong and Rasul Ismael.
During the bill’s first reading on Tuesday, several BTA members also signified their intent to be co-authors, such as Deputy Speaker Nabil Tan, MPs Eddie Alih, Romeo Sema, Diamla Musa, Susana Anayatin, Akmad Abas, Saffrullah Dipatuan, Mohammad Yacob, Sittie Shahara Mastura, Baino Karon, Jose Lorena, Sangki Ali, Jamel Macaraya, Romeo Saliga, Alzad Sattar, Said Salendab, Edrieza Rimbang, Sahie Udjah, Mujahid Abdulmuhmin, Narciso Yu Ekey, Mudjib Abu, Muslimin Jakilan, and Maisara Latiph. (Bangsamoro Information Office.)
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