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By Mahar Mangahas
I look forward to a Freedom of Information Act that will, in particular, increase public access to the raw data gathered in the government’s censuses and surveys, which underlie its published summary statistics, and, indeed, could be used to produce many other statistics of value that the government does not publish.
It all makes sense now why the Aquino administration doesn’t support the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill. Especially with President Aquino’s and Senate President Franklin Drilon’s link to Janet Lim-Napoles coming to light for all the world to see, and following revelations about Mr. Aquino’s improper release of millions if not billions of pesos to provide financial support to Team PNoy in the May 13 elections. Now I understand everything: The Aquino administration refuses to support the passage of an FOI law because it wants to hide its own misuse of “pork funds.”
By Conrado de Quiros
So when are we going to have a Freedom of Information Act?
We may not have been successful in pushing for Rep. Emmeline Aglipay as chair of the House Committee on Public Information, but we do not count this as a defeat. This changes nothing. Our resolve in our campaign remains steadfast and firm.
If President Aquino will accept his pork barrel and include pork barrel allocations in the national budget, there is no reason he shouldn’t support the passage of the Freedom of Information bill.
A new Congress, a new opportunity for the Freedom of Information bill to make it through the mill—if President Aquino decides to fulfill his campaign promise and push for it. That “if” is the biggest stumbling block to the bill’s passage. The President—however much he has been reminded that people voted for him partly because he promised a more open, transparent system of governance—has found various reasons to stall, delay and evade forthright action on the FOI bill. With three congresses having gone by and the bill still stuck in a legislative no man’s land, his justifications have grown more untenable, and the public’s patience is wearing thin.
By Conrado de Quiros
Socrates Villegas is the new head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. He marked the event by saying the Church would continue to pursue its role of critical collaboration with government.
This refers to the Inquirer news item “Calapan mayor faces graft case over TV, CCTV deals” (Page A18, Inquirer, 4/24/13). In reaction, Mayor Paulino Salvador Leachon said: The cases have already been cleared by the Commission on Audit and that all government projects in his city underwent proper bidding.
The article “FOI: Waiting for the Hail Mary Pass” (Inquirer.net, 1/25/13) by Walden Bello was an informative piece clearly stating the advantages and the role of the freedom of information (FOI) bill in a democracy. I like the way he constructed his thoughts about the FOI, and its relationship to democracy and to our country’s bureaucracy.
By Walden Bello
While the Senate has passed the Freedom of Information Bill (before its members descended into a deadly knife-fight), the House of Representatives still has to bring the FOI bill to the plenary for debate. Why the bill seems to be headed for a fiasco similar to what happened to it on the last day the 14th Congress, when a quorum call was made to scuttle its ratification, is traced by some of the bill’s advocates to the lack of enthusiasm for it on the part of key players in the House and Malacanang. Others fault the majority of House members, who, they say, would much rather engage in early electoral campaigning than attend session to assure a quorum. Whatever the reasons, the bill’s sponsors in the House are still hanging on to the Speaker’s observation that in that chamber, “things usually come together in the last three days.”
This refers to the letter accusing me and Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. (SB) of trying to “kill” the Freedom of Information or FOI bill (Inquirer, 12/3/12). In fairness to Speaker Belmonte, his instructions is to facilitate the smooth passage of the bill taking into considerations all the contentious issues. I and Speaker Belmonte remain [...]
By Juan L. Mercado
“The worst sin is to be indifferent,” George Bernard Shaw wrote. Does this apply to President Aquino’s flip-flops on the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill?