News Release

PCO hosts international conference on access to information

The Presidential Communications Office (PCO), through its Freedom of Information Program Management Office (FOI-PMO), formally opened the 14th Edition of the International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC) on 19 June 2023 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

The Opening Ceremony was led by President Pro Tempore of the Senate of the Philippines Loren Legarda, ICIC Chair and President Commissioner of the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (INAI) of Mexico Blanca Lilia Ibarra, and PCO Secretary Atty. Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil, with His Excellency President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. as the keynote speaker.

The ICIC is a global network connecting commissioners, ombudspersons, and other bodies overseeing the implementation of access to public information legislation and policies. Its members are dedicated to the protection and promotion of the right to access public information as a fundamental pillar to the enjoyment of social and economic freedoms.

On the network’s 20th founding anniversary, its annual conference is being held for the first time in Asia with the theme ‘Bridging Information Across Nations: Concretizing the Global Role of Access to Information for Democratic Preservation, Inclusivity, and Development.’

Senator Legarda, as a staunch advocate of good governance, said in her message that the biggest possible defender of transparency should be the government itself, and such should begin with civil servants being unafraid of conflict. Through her initiative, the funding requirement for the international conference was included in the 2023 national budget.

For her part, PCO Secretary Velicaria-Garafil said that, “(b)eing the host this year is indeed a testament that the Philippine government recognizes access to information as a fundamental human right that must be upheld.”

INAI President Commissioner Ibarra reinforced the PCO Secretary’s sentiment, further emphasizing that promoting the right to information is a common goal of every democratic government and enables the progress of societies.

In his Keynote Message, the President called on all the branches of government to uphold the people’s freedom of information as he promised to advance the campaign against misinformation and disinformation in the country.

“I reiterate our call not only to the executive branch, but to all branches of government, to genuinely uphold and give effect to the people’s freedom of information in the course of our day-to-day operations, with good faith and with openness,” the President said.

The PCO through FOI-PMO, as host and as part of the ICIC Planning Committee, has prepared a substantial lineup of sessions and workshops which will explore and examine Asia-Pacific’s perspective and practice in access to information. Furthermore, these sessions aim to tackle the opportunities and challenges in the same field.

In attendance are more than 80 delegates from over 50 access to information implementing offices from the Americas, Africa, Australia, Assia, Europe, and the pacific Islands.

The hosting of the 14th Edition of ICIC was conferred to PCO through FOI PMO in June 2022 in Puebla, Mexico during the preceding edition of the conference. FOI Philippines is the first Southeast Asian member of the ICIC network.

The Conference will run from 19 to 21 June 2023.