Freedom of information in the Filipino people’s agenda
by FFE PH News staff
Photo source: GMA News
The Freedom for Information (FOI) bill may have been OK’d by the Senate last month, but Congress has yet to take action.
To push for its passage, a similar FOI bill has been filed by citizens in a petition for indirect initiative to force the Congress to a vote. Right to Know, Right Now Coalition has taken the lead to file the so called people’s FOI bill, and recently, it has earned the support of former Quezon representative Lorenzo Tañada III, the bill’s advocate in the last Congress.
The former representative and Right to Know, Right Now Coalition attorney Nepomuceno Malaluan have written an appeal to House speaker Feliciano Belmonte and majority leader Neptali Gonzales II to act on the bill, reinstating that initiative bills should be given priority ahead of other measures.
Supporters of the people’s FOI emphasise that the passage of the bill is very necessary now more than ever as controversies over the misuse of public funds are surfacing one after the other. If anything, the pork barrel expose has let the Filipino people know that ‘numerous government mechanisms meant to protect public funds … have proven insufficient.’
In their letter, the pair stressed that ‘By finally giving Filipinos the right to information in the manner prescribed by the People’s FOI bill, we can move forward and ensure transparency and accountable governance even beyond the Aquino administration.’
Groups calling for the abolition of the pork barrel have demanded that the FOI bill be passed and enacted into law.
Malaluan and Tañada asked that the people’s FOI bill, which was submitted July 1 on the first working day of the 16th Congress, be taken up at first reading when Congress resumes sessions on Oct. 14.