Philippines

1.35

Environmental Democracy Index Score

The Philippines scored well on the Transparency and Justice pillars, and received a fair score on the Participation pillar. While the constitution grants a general right to information, the Philippines has yet to enact a freedom of information law and there are many grounds on which the government can withhold information from the public. For the Participation pillar, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act provide the public with opportunities to participate in environmental decision making, but the law gives discretion to government agencies whether to seek public input during the preparation of environmental rules. As for the Justice pillar, there are strong provisions to provide for prompt and effective remedies through administrative or judicial means. There is also broad standing for the public to bring claims and challenge decisions by government or private-sector actors. However, there is no appeals mechanism when environmental information requests are refused. The Philippines could continue to promote environmental democracy by addressing these areas for improvement.

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The right to information is recognized in the 1973 Constitution and further strengthened in the 1987 Constitution.  The Access Initiative Philippines has been actively involved with the Access to Information Network (ATIN), a group of NGOs and other networks advocating for the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill in the Philippines. Despite a long advocacy campaign, the FOI bill is still in process. The Philippine Coalition, led by partner organization the Ateneo School of Government, concluded their TAI Assessment and are now in a post-assessment phase. TAI Philippines is part of the Technical Workshop Group to draft and deliberate on the FOI Bill for submission to the Access to Information Committee in the House of Representatives. TAI partners, including the Ateneo School of Government, helped advocate for the “Procedures for Environmental Cases” approved in April, 2010 by the Supreme Court in the Philippines. Starting with the objective of protecting and advancing the constitutional right of the people to a balanced and healthful environment, these rules propose to revolutionize how environmental cases are addressed, including provisions to make trials make simpler, speedier and less expensive.