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FOI a nightmare for scoundrels in gov’t

/ 11:12 PM September 21, 2012

The Freedom of Information (FOI) bill is a noble piece of legislation which could be a cause for celebration once it ripens into law. This law will transmogrify the ethos in public service as it puts on notice all public servants that they will be watched every step of the way as they do their jobs. The law will make it easier and simpler to search for any information related to any form of chicanery that could be the subject of an indictment once the people take vengeance against any erring public servant.

The stringent legal formalities which usually choke to death any attempt to seek information needed as evidence in prosecuting an act of dishonesty in government will be eliminated by this law, and the rigorous procedures which make it virtually impossible to fish for information which are suspect will be demolished as well.

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Any public or private records that keep unholy secrets of public servants linked to any stolen public funds must yield to the weight and pressure of this law.

To the rogue public servants, the law could be their worst nightmare because it could freak them out constantly. And one will not be surprised if by now the guilty at heart are in fast mode crafting ways to disguise the names of their fat bank accounts, or titles to their properties that are fruits of plundering.

Those in the mold of Jesse Robredo might welcome the law with blazing yellow ribbons and with a big, big applause. They have nothing to hide and fear about.

Caveat: Modern-day thieves are craftier than the devil, and it behooves the author of the bill to include some safeguards, like providing a mandatory waiver by all public servants allowing the Philippine government or its agencies to search for and obtain from any foreign banks or financial institutions any information, data or records of any bank deposits or titles to assets stashed by any Filipino public servant.

Otherwise, the law would be inutile because all that the scoundrels may do is stash their loots in foreign financial institutions, taking refuge in this legal loophole and, thus, beating the law easily and unabashedly.

Foreign financial institutions, on the other hand, are always guided by international law in giving full faith and credence to the laws of a foreign land such as the freedom of information act, as long as there are no issues involving the national security of the host country.

The President should wield his political whip to push for the passage of the law as a complement to his drive against corruption.

Bloodsuckers, watch out! The trap is set. Enter at your own risk.

—MANUEL BIASON,

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TAGS: FOI, Freedom of Information, letters to the editor, opinion
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