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Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission

Case number:
G.R. No. 72119
Country:
Philippines
Date of decision:
29 May 1987
Court / Arbiter:
Supreme Court ( Supreme )

Relevant law :
Constitution ( Constitution )

Decision:

The Constitution requires government agencies to to provide information upon request; if they do not want to disclose information, they carry the burden of proving that the information is not of public concern or, if it is of public concern, that the information has been specifically exempted by law. Moreover, a citizen does not need to show any legal or special interest in order to establish his or her right to information.


Keywords:
Burden of proof (including requests for additional evidence)
Constitution
Freedom of expression (including RTI as element of or integral to)
Public interest (including public interest override, information of public interest)
Status of requester (including interest in information, citizenship, legal person, standing)

Case details:

Facts

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).

Decision

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).

Resources:

Judgment of the Court.