IT group: #NoRestrictions on publicly funded data
February 14, 2017
IT group Computer Professionals’ Union (CPU) reminded government agencies and the public that data generated and created using public funds should be made publicly available, without any restrictions.
“We disagree with the statement of PAGASA Weather Division Operations Chief Esperanza Cayanan that raw weather forecasting data generated by the agency should be only made available to ‘vetted’ entities with technical expertise,” said Rick Bahague, national coordinator of CPU.
“In the first place, it is the public, through taxes exacted from our hard-earned money, who pays for the purchase of computers, satellite access, and software to generate these data. It is the public who pays the salaries of these good men and women in our weather forecasting agency. Who are they to say that data generated from their efforts, including raw data, will only be accessible to a select few?,” added Bahague.
Bahague reminded PAGASA that under sections 3.3 and 3.4 of DOST Administrative Order No. 3 or the DOST Data Sharing Policy of 2015, all DOST Agencies are expected to publicly share “research data and supporting materials created or generated from public funds”, especially “hazard related real-time and historical data”. These are in accordance with the commitments of the Philippine government under the Open Government Partnership (OGP) entered into in 2011, and subsequently Joint Memorandum Circular 2014-01 or Open Data Philippines which pushes government agencies to promote openness and reusability of its data.
“Sharing data, especially those generated from publicly funded research initiatives, is a big step towards building inclusive economies and encouraging peoples’ participation in governance and national development. Whatever data is being generated by government research agencies should empower citizen to make informed decisions. What the PAGASA is doing is a big step back from this direction,” said Bahague.
Bahague also reminded that currently the Philippines ranks 78th out of 122 countries in the Global Open Data Index, which tracks the openness of data worldwide. It also has a score of 36.94 out of 100 in the Open Data Barometer, which ranks countries in terms of readiness, implementation, and impacts of their open data initiatives.
“In a time when science and technology workers worldwide are fighting against censorship and control by their governments, we need more science-backed data to be made public. We need to fight for the spirit of open knowledge and the sharing of information that is one of the cornerstones of a truly inclusive, people-centered science and technology development,” said Bahague.
Bahague called on the PAGASA to reconsider its open data policy, especially given the significant role of weather and hazards data in the Philippines, which placed 4th among disaster-prone countries in 2015.
Furthermore, the IT group called on the Duterte administration to scale up Executive Order No. 2 or the FOI order to cover not just 34 but all departments and offices in the executive branch, and to make available FOI manuals for each office. Legislators were also urged to prioritize passage of the FOI law to institutionalize the opening up of government data.#
Rick Bahague, CPU National Coordinator
282-4129 / 0939-9266549
 Yang, Angelica Y. 2017 February 8. “To free or not to free: The debate over public access to weather data” http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/598844/scitech/science/to-free-or-not-to-free-the-debate-over-public-access-to-weather-data