Cebu City’s Freedom of Information ordinance still unimplemented

AFTER almost eight months since the Freedom of Information (FOI) ordinance was approved, the local law has not been fully implemented due to the absence of implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

The FOI ordinance was crafted to give every Filipino access to information and public records of official acts, transactions and decisions, as well as government research data used as the basis for policy development in the custody of the Cebu City Government.

Public Information Office (PIO) head Estela Grace “Jinky” Rosit told SunStar Cebu Thursday, March 2, 2023, that their office has yet to meet with the City Legal Office (CLO) to discuss the creation of the IRR.

Rosit said the meeting between the PIO and CLO may happen this week, but she gave no definite date.

City Ordinance 2657, also called the Freedom of Information Act of 2019, was signed into law by Mayor Michael Rama on July 28, 2022.


On Jan. 31, 2023, the CLO submitted to the Sangguniang Panlungsod secretariat the local inventory of exceptions to the FOI ordinance.

The CLO has identified eight exemptions to the ordinance which include information covered by executive privilege; privileged information relating to national security, defense or international relations; information concerning law enforcement and protection of public and personal safety; and information deemed confidential for the protection of privacy of certain individuals such as minors, victims of crimes or the accused.

Another exception to the ordinance is “information, documents or records known by reason of official capacity and are deemed as confidential, including those submitted or disclosed by entities to government agencies, tribunals, boards, or officers, in relation to the performance of their functions, or to inquiries or investigation conducted by them in the exercise of their administrative, regulatory or quasi-judicial powers.”

Prejudicial premature disclosure; records of proceedings or information from proceedings which, pursuant to law or relevant rules and regulations, are treated as confidential or privileged; and other exceptions to the right to information under laws, jurisprudence, rules and regulations are also included in the inventory of exceptions provided by the CLO.

Under the FOI ordinance, “no request of information shall be denied unless it falls under any of the exceptions in the inventory of FOI exceptions.”

“The Cebu City Government shall adopt the ‘disclose to one, disclose to all’ policy for the information requested through this ordinance and shall exercise proactive disclosure of information not subject to the exceptions,” read a portion of the ordinance.

Focal person

The ordinance also states the PIO is designated as the focal person and is tasked to oversee the implementation of the law.

All City Hall offices are also encouraged to establish and maintain an active website for a speedy and economical publication and release of information, documents and public records.

The ordinance also prescribed fees for printing, photocopying, or certification of documents, but digital copies of the requested documents will be free of charge.

Should a request be denied, a written form containing the reason for such denial will be provided to the requesting party, and will be given 15 working days to appeal.

Failure of any Cebu City Government officer or employee to comply with the provisions of the ordinance will be reprimanded on the first offense, will face up to 30 days of suspension on the second offense and dismissal from service on the third offense.