Freedom that, even under Aquino, PH still doesn’t enjoy
Recently, Ang Kapatiran Party (AKP) issued a statement on the People’s Freedom of Information (FOI) bill. I want to impress on our people that AKP continues to be active in sharing its stands and views on issues and concerns that beset the country.
In July 2011, AKP, through the “indirect initiative” provision, Section 3(b) of Republic Act No. 6735 (the Initiative and Referendum Act), petitioned the House of Representatives to enact an FOI law. Despite this effort, both Congress and the executive department never gave priority to this long-overdue legislation.
To date, we still do not have freedom of information.
AKP believes that without freedom of information, there can be no genuine “matuwid na daan.” An authentic “matuwid na daan” demands an institutional foundation that addresses two key, indispensable objects of good governance. The first is for a more responsive government planning. The availability of information enhances broader public participation around policy objectives and design. It also enables the private sector to make sound long-term economic decisions. This, in turn, advances a nation’s economic efficiency and competitiveness. The second is for greater transparency. The free flow of government information is a vital safeguard against corruption. It exposes vested interests and leads to the identification of corrupt officials. The people’s right to government information therefore is a political imperative, an element indispensable in a functioning representative democracy.
AKP is a member—perhaps the only national political party member—of the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition which has long been campaigning for the passage of the FOI Act.
No matter. The convening of the 16th Congress brings renewed hope. On July 1, 2013, the clock will start ticking on the People’s FOI bill. The clamor for an FOI law will put to test the spirit of the indirect initiative provision of RA 6735, which provides that the procedure to be followed shall be the same as the enactment of any legislative measure, except that the initiative bill shall have precedence over pending legislative measures in the committees.
This People’s FOI bill is but a manifestation of and testament to the coalition’s support for President Aquino’s dream of “matuwid na daan” and the people’s dream for its institutionalization.
—REGINALD B. TAMAYO,
National Executive Board,
Ang Kapatiran Party,