P-Noy’s huge broken promise
During the 2010 presidential election campaign, President Aquino promised the enactment of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill into law. This vow gave the Filipino voters hope that the much-needed FOI law would finally become a reality and help curb graft and corruption in government because, as envisioned, it will give the public access to government expenditure records.
But alas and alack, Mr. Aquino has seemingly forgotten or put aside this promise. From the look of things, the 16th Congress will not be able to pass this important piece of legislation. It’s unfortunate that the FOI bill is finding a hard time passing through the legislative mill despite the fact that the House of Representatives is headed by an ally of Mr. Aquino, namely, Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte Jr.
In the Senate, the FOI has been approved mainly through the effort and perseverance of Sen. Grace Poe. But the House leadership is apparently “dribbling” the bill to derail its passage before the 16th Congress ends. Despite the moves of well-meaning members of the House, notably Rep. Leni Robredo of Camarines Sur, to have the FOI bill enacted, the House leadership remains lukewarm and indifferent to the bill.
Belmonte seems to be more concerned about amending the economic provisions of the Constitution and passing the divorce law. It’s a sad irony that a former newspaperman (he was a reporter for The Manila Chronicle before martial law) is reluctant to favorably act on a bill which has something to do with unfettered people’s access to public information and will bolster accountability among public officials.
I am really afraid and apprehensive that the FOI bill will be just consigned to the dustbin of unacted pieces of legislation. With the 16th Congress’ end getting closer, the FOI bill’s passage looks dimmer and dimmer. I hope I would be proven wrong.
—EUSEBIO S. SAN DIEGO,
founder, Kaguro, and
former president, Quezon City Public School Teachers Association, [email protected]
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