Monday, December 2, 2013

the proper remedy to invoke the right to information is to file a petition for mandamus.

Case law instructs that the proper remedy to invoke the right to
information is to file a petition for mandamus. As explained in the case of
L egaspz· v. c z·v z· z se rvz·c e c ommz·s sw· n: 256
[W]hile the manner of examining public records may be subject to
reasonable regulation by the government agency in custody thereof, the
duty to disclose the information of public concern, and to afford access to
public records cannot be discretionary on the part of said agencies.
Certainly, its performance cannot be made contingent upon the discretion
of such agencies. Otherwise, the enjoyment of the constitutional right may
be rendered nugatory by any whimsical exercise of agency discretion. The
constitutional duty, riot being discretionary, its performance may be
compelled by a writ of mandamus in a proper case.
But what is a proper case for Mandamus to issue? In the case before Us,
the public right to be enforced and the concomitant duty of the State are
unequivocably set forth in the Constitution. The decisive question on the
propriety of the issuance of the writ of mandamus in this case is,
whether the information sou~ht by the petitioner is within the ambit
of the constitutional guarantee. (Emphases supplied)
Corollarily, in the case of Valmonte v. Belmonte Jr. 257 (Valmonte), it
has been clarified that the right to information does not include the right to
compel the preparation of "lists, abstracts, summaries and the like." In the
same case, it was stressed that it is essential that the "applicant has a welldefined,
clear and certain legal right to the thing demanded and that it is the
imperative duty of defendant to perform the act required." Hence, without
the foregoing substantiations, the Court cannot grant a particular request for
information. The pertinent portions of Valmonte are hereunder quoted:258
Although citizens are afforded the right to information and, pursuant
thereto, are entitled to "access to official records," the Constitution does
not accord them a right to compel custodians of official records to prepare lists, abstracts, summaries and the like in their desire to
acquire information on matters of public concern.
It must be stressed that it is essential for a writ of mandamus to issue that
the applicant has a well-defined, clear and certain legal right to the
thing demanded and that it is the imperative duty of defendant to
perform the act required. The corresponding duty of the respondent to
perform the required act must be clear and specific [Lemi v. Valencia,
G.R. No. L-20768, November 29,1968,126 SCRA 203; Ocampo v.
Subido, G.R. No. L-28344, August 27, 1976, 72 SCRA 443.] The request
of the petitioners fails to meet this standard, there being no duty on
the part of respondent to prepare the list requested.

No comments: