Citizen Valentin Legaspi requested from the Civil Service Commission information on the civil service eligibilities of sanitarian employees in the Health Department of Cebu City. The Commission rejected the request, asserting that Legaspi was not entitled to the information. Legaspi instituted an action for mandamus from the Court to require that the information be provided (pg. 1).
The Court began by noting that both the 1973 (Art. IV, Sec. 6) and 1987 (Art. III, Sec. 7) constitutions recognize the right of the people to information on matters of public concern. Further, they specify that information shall be provided, subject only to limitations provided by law (pg. 1). While the Solicitor General interposed a procedural objection challenging the requester’s standing in this petition for mandamus, the Court ruled that, in this case, the people are regarded as the “real party in interest” and the requester, as a citizen interested in the execution of the laws, did not need to show any legal or special interest in the result (pg. 2). Further, government agencies have no discretion to refuse disclosure of, or access to, information of public concern because the Constitution guarantees access to information of public concern, a recognition of the essentiality of the free flow of ideas and information in a democracy (pg. 3-4). That is, the government agency denying information access has the burden to show that the information is not of public concern, or, if it is of public concern, that the information has been exempted by law from the operation of the guarantee (pg. 5).
Here, the information was of a public concern because it is the legitimate concern of citizens to ensure that government positions requiring civil service eligibility are occupied only by eligible persons, and the Civil Service Commission failed to cite any law limiting the requester’s right to know (pg. 5). Thus, the Court ordered the Civil Service Commission to provide the information (pg. 6).
Judgment of the Court.