Sei sulla pagina 1di 11

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.
In this case, the route managers are certainly more than merely recommend
effectivemanagement action. They perform operational, human resource, financial andmarketing

FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION


functions for the company, all of which involve the laying down of operatingpolicies for themselves and
their teams.
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.
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.

FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION


Baldoza v. Dimaano
A.M. No. 1120-MJ May 5, 1976
FACTS:
Municipal Secretary of Taal, Batangas, charges Municipal Judge Dimaano with abuse of authority
in refusing to allow employees of the Municipal Mayor to examine the criminal docket records of the
Municipal Court to secure data in connection with their contemplated report on peace and order
conditions of the municipality.
Respondent answered that there has never been an intention to refuse access to official court records
but that the same is always subject to reasonable regulation as to who, when, where and how they may
be inspected. He further asserted that a court has the power to prevent an improper use or inspection of
its records and furnishing copies may be refuse when the motivation is not serious and legitimate interest,
out of whim or fancy or mere curiosity or to gratify private site or promote public scandal.
In his answer, respondent observed;
o Restrictions are imposed by the Court for fear of an abuse in the exercise of the right.
o There has been recent tampering of padlocks of the door of the Court and with this, to
allow an indiscriminate and unlimited exercise of the right to free access, might do more
harm than good.
o Request of such a magnitude cannot b immediately granted without adequate
deliberation and advisement
o Authority should first be secured from the Supreme Court
Case was referred to Judge Riodique for investigation and report. At the preliminary hearing, Taal
Mayor Corazon Caniza filed a motion to dismiss the complaint to preserve harmony and cooperation
among officers. This motion was denied by Investigating Judge but he recommended the exoneration of
respondent.
Investigating Judges report avers that complainant was aware of the motion to dismiss and he was in
conformity with it. Communications between complainant and respondent reveal that respondent allowed
the complainant to open and view the docket books of the respondent under certain conditions and under
his control and supervision.
Under the conditions, the Court found that the respondent has not committed any abuse of authority

ISSUE:
WON respondent acted arbitrarily in the premises.
RULING:
No. The respondent did not act arbitrarily in the premises.
The respondent allowed the complainant to open and view the docket books of respondent under
certain conditions and under his control and supervision. It has not been shown that the rules and
condition imposed by the respondent were unreasonable. The access to public records is predicated on
the right of the people to acquire information on public concern.
Justice Briones in his concurring opinion predicated such right on the constitutional right of the
press to have access to information as the essence of press freedom.

FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION

The New Constitution (1973?) expressly recognizes that the people are entitled to information on
matters of public concern and thus are expressly granted access to official records. Information is
needed to enable the members of society to cope with the exigencies of the times.
WHEREFORE, the case against respondent is hereby dismissed.

FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION


Aquino-Sarmiento v. Morato
G.R. No. 92541 November 13, 1991
FACTS:

Carmen Aquino-Sarmiento (pet), a member of Movie and Television Review and


Classification Board (MTRCB) (resp), requested that she be allowed to examine the board's
records pertaining to the voting slips accomplished by the individual board members after a
review of the movies and television productions.
However, her request was denied by respondent Morato ( chairman of MTRCB) on the
ground that whenever the members of the board sit in judgment over a film, their decisions
partake the nature of conscience votes and are private and personal.
On the other hand, petitioner argues that the records she wishes to examine are public in
character and that respondents Morato and the classification board have no authority to deny any
citizen seeking examination of the board's records.
Respondent Morato called an executive meeting of the MTRCB to discuss the issue raised by
petitioner. In said meeting, seventeen (17) members of the board voted to declare their individual voting
records as classified documents which rendered the same inaccessible to the public without clearance
from the chairman. Thereafter, respondent Morato denied petitioner's request to examine the voting slips.

A board resolution was also issued declaring as confidential, private and personal, the decision
of the reviewing committee and the voting slips of the members.
Petitioner brought the matter to the attention of the Executive Secretary, which in turn, referred
the same to respondent Morato for appropriate comment, and which still denied petitioners request;
Hence this petition to seeks the nullification of

1) MTRCB Resolution No. 88-1-25 which allows the Chairman of the Board to unilaterally
downgrade a film (already) reviewed especially those which are controversial and
2) MTRCB RESOLUTION No. 10-89 (dated July 27, 1989) declaring as strictly confidential,
private and personal a) the decision of a reviewing committee which previously reviewed a certain
film and b) the individual voting slips of the members of the committee that reviewed the film.
Respondents, however, argue at the outset that the instant petition should be dismissed outright
for having failed to comply with the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies.

ISSUE:
1. WON petitioner failed to comply with the said doctrine?
2. WON citizen's right of access to official records is violated?
RULING:
1. No. The doctrine of exhaustion of administrate remedies simply provides that before a party litigant is
allowed resort to the courts, he is required to comply with all administrative remedies available under the
law. The rationale behind this salutory principle is that for reasons of practical considerations, comity and

FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION


convenience, the courts of law will not entertain a case until all the available administrative remedies
provided by law have been resorted to and the appropriate authorities have been given ample opportunity
to act and to correct the errors committed in the administrative level. If the error is rectified, judicial
intervention would then be unnecessary. Nonetheless, the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative
remedies is not absolute. The applicability of the principle admits of certain exceptions, such as: 1) when
no administrative review is provided by law; 2) when the only question involved is one of law; 3) where the
party invoking the doctrine is guilty of estoppel; 4) where the challenged administrative action is patently
illegal, arbitrary and oppressive; 5) where there is unreasonable delay or official inaction that would
greatly prejudice the complainant; 6) where to exhaust administrative review is impractical and
unreasonable; and 7) where the rule of qualified political agency applies.
The issue raised in the instant petition is one of law, hence the doctrine of non-exhaustion of
administrative remedy relied upon by respondents is inapplicable and cannot be given any effect. At any
rate, records are replete with events pointing to the fact that petitioner adhered to the administrative
processes in the disposition of the assailed resolutions of public respondents prior to filing the instant
petition by, among others, writing the Executive Secretary and bringing the matter to the attention of the
Office of the President. Respondents' claim that petitioner failed to exhaust administrative remedies must
therefore fail.
2. Yes. The Court found the respondents' refusal to allow petitioner to examine the
records of MTRCB, pertaining to the decisions of the review committee as well as the individual
voting slips of its members, as violative of petitioner's constitutional right of access to public
records. The right to privacy belongs to the individual acting in his private capacity and not to a
governmental agency or officers tasked with, and acting in, the discharge of public duties.
More specifically, Sec. 7, Art. III of the Constitution provides that: The right of the people to
information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to
documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government
research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such
limitations as may be provided by law.
As we held in Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission, this constitutional provision is self-executory
and supplies "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. Hence, the fundamental right
therein recognized may be asserted by the people upon the ratification of the constitution without need for
any ancillary act of the Legislature. What may be provided for by the Legislature are reasonable
conditions and limitations upon the access to be afforded which must, of necessity, be consistent with the
declared State Policy of full public disclosure of all transactions involving public interest (Constitution, Art.
II, Sec. 28)."
Respondents contend, however, that what is rendered by the members of the board in reviewing
films and reflected in their individual voting slip is their individual vote of conscience on the motion picture
or television program and as such, makes the individual voting slip purely private and personal; an
exclusive property of the member concerned. The term private has been defined as "belonging to or
concerning, an individual person, company, or interest"; whereas, public means "pertaining to, or
belonging to, or affecting a nation, state, or community at large". May the decisions of respondent Board
and the individual members concerned, arrived at in an official capacity, be considered private? Certainly
not. As may be gleaned from PD 1986 creating the respondent classification board, there is no doubt that
its very existence is public is character; it is an office created to serve public interest. It being the case,

FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION


respondents can lay no valid claim to privacy. The right to privacy belongs to the individual acting in his
private capacity and not to a governmental agency or officers tasked with, and acting in, the discharge of
public duties. There can be no invasion of privacy in the case at bar since what is sought to be divulged is
a product of action undertaken in the course of performing official functions. To declare otherwise would
be to clothe every public official with an impregnable mantle of protection against public scrutiny for their
official acts.
Further, the decisions of the Board and the individual voting slips accomplished by the members
concerned are acts made pursuant to their official functions, and as such, are neither personal nor private
in nature but rather public in character. They are, therefore, public records access to which is guaranteed
to the citizenry by no less than the fundamental law of the land. Being a public right, the exercise thereof
cannot be made contingent on the discretion, nay, whim and caprice, of the agency charged with the
custody of the official records sought to be examined. The constitutional recognition of the citizen's right of
access to official records cannot be made dependent upon the consent of the members of the board
concerned, otherwise, the said right would be rendered nugatory.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. Resolution Nos. 10-89 and 88-1-25 issued
by the respondent Board are hereby declared null and void.

FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION


Gonzales vs. Narvasa
G.R. No. 140835, August 14, 2000
FACTS:

Ramon Gonzales (pet) wrote a letter to the Executive Secretary requesting for
information with respect to the names of executive officials holding multiple positions, copies of
their appointments, and a list of recipients of luxury vehicles previously seized by the Bureau of
Customs and turned over to the Office of the President. Petitioner filed this petition to compel
the Executive Secretary to answer his letter.
The president issued EO 43 creating the Preparatory Commission on Constitutional
Reform to recommend amendments to the Constitution. Petitioner, in his capacity as a citizen
and a taxpayer, filed a petition assailing constitutionality of the Commission.
ISSUE:
1. Whether or not the petitioner has the locus standi for the present petition.
2. WON the respondent has the obligation to furnish the petitioner with the information requested, in
respect of the right to information of the petitioner.
RULING:
1. No. The petitioner has no locus standi for the present petition.
The Court rules that the action is already moot, for it no longer presents a justiciable controversy due
to the extension granted to the PCCR, first instructed to complete its task on June 30, 1999, but eventually
was changed to December 31, 1999 by EO 70. Therefore the PCCRalready submitted its
recommendations to the President on December 20, 1999 and was subsequently dissolved. Thus the
body sought to be enjoined has already ceased to exist, making prohibition an inappropriate remedy. In
addition to that, the petitioner has no standing as a citizen and a taxpayer for he did not establish that he
is suffering or that will suffer some actual or threatened injury due to the creation of the PCCR, or the
creation of the positions. Likewise, there is no illegal disbursement of funds in the exercise of Congress of
its spending or taxing power, for the source of funds for the PCCR will not come from an act of
appropriation by the Congress, but will be sourced out the funds of the Office of the President.
2. Yes. the respondent has the obligation to furnish the petitioner with the information requested, in
respect of the right to information of the petitioner.
On the issue of whether or not Secretary Zamora can be compelled to furnish the petitioner with
information: the names of executive officials holding multiple positions in government, copies of their

FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION


appointments, and a list of the recipients of luxury vehicles seized by the Bureau of Customs and turned
over to Malacanang, the Court rules in favor of the petitioner. As secured by the Constitution, the right to
information is a self-executory provision which can be invoked by any citizen to assert a public right. The
right to information of the people on matters of public concern shall be recognized, subject to limitations
as may be provided by law such as in RA 6713, which provides that, in the performance of their duties, all
public officials and employees are obliged to respond to letters sent by the public within 15 working days
from receipt thereof and to ensure the accessibility of all public documents for inspection by the public
within reasonable working hours, subject to the reasonable claims of confidentiality.The Court further held
that the right to information is the key in having a meaningful democratic decision-making, to enable the
society to cope up with the exigencies of the times. It is for the courts to determine in a case-by-case
basis whether the matter is of public interest or importance, thus agreeing with the petitioner that
Secretary Zamora has the constitutional duty toanswer the request, involving matters of public concern
appointments made to public offices and the utilization of public property, also allowing the inspection and
copying of the copies of the appointment papers, subject to reasonable limitations. Wherefore, the petition
is dismissed, with the exception that respondent Zamora is ordered tofurnish petitioner with the
information requested

It is the duty of the Executive Secretary to answer the letter of the petitioner. The letter
deals with matters of public concern, appointments to public offices and utilization of public
property. The Executive Secretary is obliged to allow the inspection and copying of appointment
papers.
WHEREFORE, the petition is dismissed, with the exception that respondent Zamora is
ordered to furnish petitioner with the information requested.