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President Aquino needs to abolish the pork barrel system, but if he is so desperate to keep his pork barrel, then at least he should push Congress to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill. Isn’t the main purpose of the proposed FOI law to ensure transparency in government transactions and prevent the misuse of public funds? Isn’t the proposed law intended to foster good governance? So whether President Aquino wants to keep his pork barrel or not, isn’t it quite obvious how important and necessary an FOI law is?
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.”
With the resumption of the session of the 16th Congress, we in the FOI Youth Initiative (FYI) call on our legislators to show sincerity in their vow to cleanse government of corruption and to turn it into an institution worthy of the citizens’ trust.
This year’s commemoration—the 41st—of declaration of martial law should prod the Filipino people not only to purge the budget system of the pork barrel fund, but also of all its “Marcosian features,” features that hinder democracy and distort the “executive-legislative balance” in the management of the people’s resources.
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.
Countries with Freedom of Information laws “have lower incidence of corruption” and a better quality of life than nations that just recently enforced such a measure or have none at all, according to a study by former Inquirer reporter Edson Tandoc Jr., a Fulbright scholar and doctoral candidate at the Missouri School of Journalism.
There’s a strong call for President Aquino to support the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, which appears to be stuck deep in a quagmire of hypocrisy in Congress. We cannot say what is going on in the head of the President as to why he openly and obstinately supported the reproductive health and sin tax bills, but when it comes to the FOI bill, which hews closest to his administration’s core agenda of “daang matuwid,” he cannot even express lukewarm support.
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.
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.
By Rina Jimenez-David
It might strike many, particularly supporters of the freedom of information bill, as mere “consuelo de bobo” (cold comfort) to say that the fate of this piece of legislation is but par for the course of many other bills making their way to enactment into law.
I doubt very much if some of the people, lawmakers and clergymen among them, who are urging President Aquino to certify the urgency of the freedom of information bill really know the meaning of an “urgent bill.”