Ex-newsmen, FOI ‘killers’

Before he became the head of the Government Service Insurance System and other government corporations, and then representative of Quezon City’s fourth congressional district, then QC mayor and congressman again, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. was a newspaperman.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone used to be a reporter of Ang Pahayagang Malaya who covered Congress. He later became a trusted man of Oscar Orbos when the latter was congressman, executive secretary and transportation secretary. He later became governor of his home province, Eastern Samar.

Belmonte and I were together in the QC School Board—he as chair and I as board member representing the QC Public School Teachers Association. For 10 years, I also served as a public elementary school teacher in his congressional district. Ben and I were together in the editorial department of Malaya during the dark years of martial law and for several years after the People Power Revolution.

I am happy to have been associated with them and I am thankful for their rise in the fields of local governance and legislation. However, I am disappointed with them in one thing: for being two of the “killers” of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill. It is a sad irony that two lawmakers who used to be in the Fourth Estate would lead the move to stall a piece of legislation long overdue.

Reports have it that Evardone is “dribbling” the bill in the House committee on public information, which he chairs. On the other hand, Speaker Belmonte, who could easily steer the approval of the bill in the House if he wanted to, considering his grand coalition of different political parties and groups, has chosen to defer legislative action on the bill because, according to him, there are still issues that “can be hammered out in a caucus of the leaders and members of the ruling coalition” in the House.

It may be noted that this bill, once enacted into law, can help curb and deter the commission of graft and corruption by unscrupulous government “servants.”

It’s unthinkable that the Philippines, known for its devotion to the cause of rights and freedoms that are essential to democracy, is still in the dark as to when restrictions to access to information will become a thing of the past. It may interest—or perhaps shame—Belmonte, Evardone and their cohorts in the “killing” of the FOI bill that Liberia’s House of Representatives passed its FOI law as early as July 22, 2010.

Likewise, the 360-member Nigerian National Assembly has enacted an FOI law which aims to “give members of the press corps and the general public unfettered access to public records.”

The Kapisanan ng mga Gurong Retirado (Kaguro) joins the hordes of individuals, institutions and organizations in their demand for the “right to know, right now!”—EUSEBIO S. SAN DIEGO, founder, Kaguro and former president, Quezon City Public School Teachers Association,   essandiego@ymail.com

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=41977

Tags: Ben Evardone , congress , Freedom of Information (FOI) bill , Legislation , Media , Philippines , Speaker Belmonte

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Pakistan library named ‘bin Laden,’ as memory fades
  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Filipinos, Dutch re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • Sports

  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Marketplace