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Garcia v. BOI, 177 SCRA 374 (1989)
PSALM is a Government Owned and Controlled Corporation (GOCC) created by virtue of Republic Act No. 9136 (Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 aka EPIRA), to manage the orderly sale, disposition, and privatization of NPC generation assets, real estate and other disposable assets, and Independent Power Producer (IPP) contracts over a 25 year period.
Within the discharge of its lawful mandate, PSALM held a public bidding for the sale of the 246-megawatt (MW) AHEPP located in San Lorenzo, Norzagaray, Bulacan. On May 5, 2010, and after a post-bid evaluation, PSALM’s Board of Directors approved and confirmed the issuance of a Notice of Award to the highest bidder, K-Water, a Korean owned corporation.
Even before, PSALM gave the Notice of Award to K-Water. IDEALS had been sending letters to PSALM to request for copies of documents pertaining to the sale. The first letter dated April 20, 2010 requested for documents such as Terms of Reference and proposed bids submitted by the bidders. At that time, the bids were yet to be submitted at the bidding scheduled on April 28, 2010. PSALM’s website carried news and updates on the sale of AHEPP, providing important information on bidding activities and clarifications regarding the terms and conditions of the Asset Purchase Agreement (APA) to be signed by PSALM and the winning bidder (Buyer).
The second letter dated May 14, 2010 specifically requested for detailed information regarding the winning bidder, such as company profile, contact person or responsible officer, office address and Philippine registration.
Despite PSALM’s own press releases over the award given to K-Water, it failed to sufficiently provide IDEALS with the information it was asking for.
Whether or Not PSALM violated of the constitutional right to information of the petitioner IDEALS.
YES, PSALM violated the constitutional right to information of the petitioner IDEALS.
Section 7, Article III of the Constitution, which reads: Sec. 7. 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.
The people’s constitutional right to information is intertwined with the government’s constitutional duty of full public disclosure of all transactions involving public interest.Section 28, Article II of the Constitution declares the State policy of full transparency in all transactions involving public interest, to wit: Sec. 28. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.
The foregoing constitutional provisions 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. They are also essential to hold public officials "at all times accountable to the people," for unless citizens have the proper information, they cannot hold public officials accountable for anything. Armed with the right information, citizens can participate in public discussions leading to the formulation of government policies and their effective implementation. An informed citizenry is essential to the existence and proper functioning of any democracy.
In the case of Chavez v. Public Estates Authority the court laid down the rule that the constitutional right to information includes official information on on-going negotiations before a final contract. The information, however, 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. In addition, Congress has prescribed other limitations on the right to information in several legislations.