Lawmaker seeks access to information on food, other basic commodities PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 November 2010 14:57

If plans do not miscarry, the government would be implementing a policy of full disclosure of all government transactions involving food and basic commodities.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali has filed House Bill No. 1143 or the "Affordable Food Transparency Act" to ensure transparency and accountability and require all government agencies to issue written requests for information on food and other basic commodities.

"Access to food is a fundamental human right and it is the government's responsibility to ensure an adequate food supply for the people at affordable costs," said Umali.

In order to reinforce and guarantee the right of the people to affordable and adequate food supply, the Oriental Mindoro solon said the government must be transparent in all its transactions involving food and basic commodities.

He noted this information is needed in taking necessary actions, whether families budgeting their daily expenses, law enforcers running after hoarders and price-colluders, private enterprises in planning for the medium-term or national agencies and local government directing their efforts to solve impending supply problems.

"Government transparency in food information is a step towards reinforcing the right of the people to affordable food and food security. The people have the right to know the factors that influence food supply and prices," he said.

According to Umali, access to official information, records, documents and papers pertaining to official acts, processes, transactions and decisions by the government as well as government research and data, relative to food security, would help ensure transparency and accountability.

"Transparency on all information on food and food security would help prevent collusion and cartel, serve as a check against over-importation of basic commodities such as rice and corn, and aid in collection of tariffs per metric ton," he said.

Under the proposed law, the government shall adopt and implement a policy of full public disclosure of all government transactions involving food and basic commodities, consistent with the Constitutional right of the people to information by requiring all government bodies specifically the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to grant written requests for information on food commodities.

The bill also requires the DA to publish all relevant information on the importation of basic food commodities, such as rice and corn, as well as maintain records and a database containing the said information.

It also provides for a penalty of imprisonment of three years and a fine of P40,000 for any official or employee of the government body who denies access to information.

Any official or employee who failed to respond to a request due to negligence shall be fined with P20,000 and shall be imprisoned for one year.

For those who deliberately or knowingly refused to update any information his/her office required to disclose shall also be suspended from service for one year.