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FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION

Legaspi v. CSC
G.R. No. L-72119 May 29, 1987
FACTS:
Valentin Legaspi, a citizen of the Philippines, had requested information from the Civil Service
Commission regarding the civil service eligibility of sanitation employees in the Health Department of
Cebu City. The Commission rejected the request asserting that Legaspi was not entitled to the
information.
Legaspi then instituted an action asking the Court to compel the Civil Service Commission to
provide the information. He also claimed that his right to be informed of the eligibilities of the sanitation
employees is guaranteed by the Constitution and that he has no other plain, speedy and adequate
remedy to acquire the information.
However, the Solicitor General challenges the petitioners legal standing on the ground that the
he does not possess any clear legal right to be informed of the civil service eligibilities of the government
employees concerned and he has no actual interest in securing this particular information. He also argues
that there is no ministerial duty on the part of the Commission to furnish the petitioner with the information
he seeks.
ISSUE:
WON Civil Service Commission can refuse the disclosure of such information
RULING:
No. CSC cannot refuse.

1. The Supreme Court held that the government agencies have no discretion to refuse disclosure of,
or access to, information of public concern because the Constitution guarantees access to such
information.
Both the 1973 (Art. IV, Sec. 6) and 1987 (Art. III, Sec. 7) constitutions recognize the right of the
people to information on matters of public concern. These constitutional provisions are self-executing.
They supply the rules by means of which the right to information may be enjoyed by guaranteeing the
right and mandating the duty to afford access to sources of information.
2. The Court also held that a citizen does not need to show any legal or special interest in order to
establish his or her right to information.
When a mandamus proceeding involves the assertion of a public right, the requirement of
personal interest is satisfied by the mere fact that the petitioner is a citizen, and therefore, part of the
general "public" which possesses the right. In this case, the petitioner, as a citizen, has complied the
requirement of personal interest.
3. The State bears the burden of proving that the information is either exempt from disclosure by law
or that it is not of public concern.

FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION


The government agency denying information access has the burden to show that the information is
not of public concern, or, if it is of public concern, that the information has been exempted by law from the
obligation of disclosure.
In this case, the information was of public concern because it is the legitimate concern of citizens to
ensure that government positions requiring civil service eligibility are occupied only by eligible persons,
and the Civil Service Commission failed to cite any law limiting the requesters right to know.
Therefore, the Court ordered the Civil Service Commission to provide the information.

FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION


Chavez v. PEA and Amari
G.R. No. 133250, July 9, 2002
FACTS:
1973: The government through the Commission of Public Highways signed a contract with the
Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines (CDCP) to reclaim certain foreshore
and offshore areas of Manila Bay
1977: President Marcos issued PD No. 1084 creating the PEA, which was tasked to reclaim
land, including foreshore and submerged areas and to develop, improve, acquire x xx lease and sell any
and all kinds of lands. On the same date, President Marcos issued PD. 1085 transferring to PEA the lands
reclaimed in the foreshore and offshore of the Manila Bay under the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and
Reclamation Project (MCCRRP)
1981: Pres. Marcos issued a memorandum ordering PEA to amend its contract with CDCP which
stated that CDCP shall transfer in favor of PEA the areas reclaimed by CDCP in the MCCRRP
1988: Pres. Aquino issued Special Patent granting and transferring to PEA parcels of land so
reclaimed under the MCCRRP. Subsequently she transferred in the name of PEA the three reclaimed
islands known as the Freedom Islands
1995: PEA entered into a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with AMARI, a private corporation, to
develop the Freedom Islands and this was done without public bidding
Pres. Ramos through Executive Secretary Ruben Torres approved the JVA
1996: Senate Pres.Maceda delivered a privileged speech in the Senate and denounced the JVA as
the grandmother of all scams. As a result, the Senate conducted investigations. Among the
conclusions were:
1. The reclaimed lands PEA seeks to transfer to AMARI under the JVA are lands of the
public domain which the government has not classified as alienable lands and therefore
PEA cannot alienate these lands;
2. The certificates of the title covering the Freedom Islands are thus void, and
3. The JVA itself is illegal
1997: Pres. Ramos created the Legal Task Force to conduct a study on the legality of the JVA in view
of the Senate Committee report.
1998: The Philippine Daily Inquirer published reports on on-going renegotiations between PEA and
AMARI
PEA Director Nestor Kalaw and PEA Chairman ArsenioYulo and former navy officer Sergio Cruz were
members of the negotiating panel
Frank Chavez filed petition for Mandamus stating that the government stands to lose billions of pesos
in the sale by PEA of the reclaimed lands to AMARI and prays that PEA publicly disclose the terms of the
renegotiations of JVA. He cited that the sale to AMARI is in violation of Article 12, Sec. 3 prohibiting sale
of alienable lands of the public domain to private corporations and Article 2 Section 28 and Article 3 Sec.
7 of the Constitution on the right to information on matters of public concern.
1999: PEA and AMARI signed Amended JVA which Pres. Estrada approved
ISSUE:

FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION


WON the constitutional right to information includes official information on on-going negotiations
before a final agreement.
RULING:
Yes. The constitutional right to information includes official information on on-going
negotiations before a final contract. However, it must constitute definite propositions by the
government and should not cover recognized exceptions like privileged information, military and
diplomatic secrets and similar matters affecting national security and public order
Reasoning: Section 7, Article III of the Constitution explains the peoples right to information on
matters of public concern.
Moreover, the State policy of full transparency in all transactions involving public interest
reinforces the peoples right to information on matters of public concern. This State policy is
expressed in Section 28, Article II of the Constitution.
These two provisions of the Constitution seek to promote transparency in policy-making and in
the operations of the government, as well as provide the people sufficient information to exercise
effectively other constitutional rights. These are essential to the exercise of freedom of expression and to
hold the accountability of public officials. Moreover, an informed citizenry is essential to the existence and
proper functioning of any democracy.
PEA must prepare all the data and disclose them to the public at the start of the
disposition process, long before the consummation of the contract. While the evaluation or review
is on- going, there are no official acts, transactions, or decisions on the bids or proposals. But
once the committee makes its official recommendation, there arises a definite proposition on the
part of the government.
The information that petitioner may access on the renegotiation of the JVA includes evaluation
reports, recommendations, legal and expert opinions, minutes of meetings, terms of reference and other
documents attached to such reports or minutes, all relating to the JVA. However, the right to information
does not compel PEA to prepare lists, abstracts, summaries and the like relating to the renegotiation of
the JVA.[34] The right only affords access to records, documents and papers, which means the opportunity
to inspect and copy them. One who exercises the right must copy the records, documents and papers at
his expense. The exercise of the right is also subject to reasonable regulations to protect the integrity of
the public records and to minimize disruption to government operations, like rules specifying when and
how to conduct the inspection and copying. [
The right to information, however, does not extend to matters recognized as privileged
information under the separation of powers. [36] The right does not also apply to information on military and
diplomatic secrets, information affecting national security, and information on investigations of crimes by
law enforcement agencies before the prosecution of the accused, which courts have long recognized as
confidential.[37] The right may also be subject to other limitations that Congress may impose by law.
In this, the information demanded by petitioner is not a privileged information rooted in the
separation of powers.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED.