06 February 2013

FOI: Mag-Ingat sa Hindi Tunay (Statement of the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition)





STATEMENT OF THE RIGHT TO KNOW, RIGHT NOW! COALITION
06 February 2013
                                         

FOI: Mag-Ingat sa Hindi Tunay
  
TODAY, we close our people's campaign for the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill in the 15th Congress. We have, to the extent that our capacities and limited resources permitted, exhausted all avenues that we thought were open to us to get positive, decisive action from the leaders of the House of Representatives and from President Aquino no less.

Yet they turned a deaf ear to our summons for leadership. Instead they caved in to their fears of an informed and empowered people. They gave us the lie to their avowed claims of transparency and good governance.  

The campaign committed one big error -- we had thought, in all earnestness, that the passage of the FOI law in the 15th Congress would have the support of Aquino. Three years ago he had promised he would accord the bill top priority. Our sad lesson: Words are to candidates cheap, and Presidents lie, indeed.

Contrary to giving the FOI Bill priority, Aquino hobbled the campaign from the beginning with his variably petty and serious mutating concerns about the FOI Bill. Our reaction was to address these concerns and to engage his Study Group after it was belatedly created.

When finally he endorsed the work of the Study Group in January 2012, at the height of the Corona impeachment, we had thought the tide had changed. We were wrong again. Nothing would be heard from him since in support of the measure, except, ironically a left-field endorsement of the Right of Reply in a November 2012 speech. This no doubt affirmed and emboldened the obstructionist proponents of a patently unconstitutional Right of Reply rider to the FOI Bill at the House of Representatives.

Taking cue that the measure did not really enjoy Aquino's full support, the House assured the death of the FOI bill by deliberate inaction. Committee on Public Information Chairman Rep. Ben Evardone, who had jumped ship from the Lakas-Kampi party of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to join Aquino's Liberal Party, simply delayed and cancelled committee hearings on the bill on and on. When finally the committee members forced the vote to send the bill to plenary, two more Lakas-Kampi turncoats to LP holding the highest positions in the House -- Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II -- made sure the FOI bill will not get off the ground.

Unto the FOI Bill's dying days in the last nine session days of Congress, we appealed to President Aquino to certify the passage of the FOI bill as an urgent measure. His response, given through his spokespersons was curt -- he wants to see a "healthy debate" on the FOI bill in the House. 

It was an insult to say the least. It was as if the President was clueless about how the triumvirate of Evardone, Belmonte, and Gonzales had made sure that absolutely no debate would happen on the FOI Bill whether in committee or in plenary. And rather than taking the trio to task, the President, national chairman of the Liberal Party, even rewarded Evardone for his lackluster work, by installing the latter as a spokesperson of the administration's hodgepodge of an electoral coalition.

And so the FOI Bill dies again in the 15th Congress under Aquino, as it did under Arroyo. But a startling point of contrast must be made, too. The FOI Bill had advanced even much farther in Arroyo's time when it came just one step away from signing into law. In Aquino's time, it did not take off at all in the House.

Where does the FOI campaign go from here?

The people's movement for FOI will push on anywhere and everywhere, despite or in spite of Aquino and his allies. Rights, after all, are never served on a silver platter. Fight for our rights we must, and we will.

In the 16th Congress we commit to persevere even more. By the power of our own will and by the numbers of our people, we will heighten our demand to get our FOI Act.

We know this to be true: The FOI Bill did not pass in the 15th Congress because Aquino and the House of Representatives failed us. But the success story in our campaign for the FOI Bill's passage into law is writ large in the ever-growing movement for the passage of the FOI Bill that has united nearly all sectors of Philippine society. They include workers and businessmen, the youth and students, the media, the churches, the civil servants, professors and school officials, migrant workers and their families, and a whole range of civil society organizations across the nation.

They exclude, of course, Aquino, his allies, and politicians of all stripes who seem truly scared that their secrets and shenanigans will be exposed by an empowering transparency tool that an FOI Act will be.

Today we do not bury the FOI Billl. Instead we keep it alive and recommit ourselves to push it in the 16th Congress -- despite or in spite of Aquino and his allies. With greater vigor we will keep the FOI bill alive on the streets, across all media platforms, and wherever else local communities can set it in motion, through a more determined push for legislation, and also by practice.

Today we bury instead the legacy of ineptitude of the House of Representatives of the 15th Congress, and the falsity of Aquino's promise as a candidate that he will see to the immediate passage of the FOI Act. Today, we stop hoping and appealing for Aquino to push the FOI Bill in the 16th Congress. By all indications, he supports reform bills that also the donor community, investors, and credit ratings outfits favor, but on the FOI Bill, he equivocates ceaselessly.

We take this opportunity to thank all the sectors and citizens who championed and stood up for the passage of the FOI in the 14th and 15th Congresses, despite the odds. The Senate, as an institution, has delivered not once, but twice, and there is no reason to doubt that it will again deliver in the 16th Congress.

We make special mention of Sen. Gregorio Honasan II, who made good on his commitment to work for the FOI Bill's passage in the Senate in the 15th Congress as committee chairman, and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who did the same in the 14th Congress. We note that in both instances that the FOI Bill was passed by the Senate, it was headed by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

At the House, while an unresponsive leadership and an indifferent majority killed the FOI bill a second time, a handful stood their ground -- Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada of Quezon, Rep. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao, Representatives Walden Bello and Kaka Bag-ao of Akbayan Party List, and Representatives Sherwin Tugna and Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales of CIBAC Party List.

We also note that the 14th Congress' Committee on Public Information Chairman Benny Abante of Manila has kept alive his advocacy for the FOI bill, in his private capacity. We acknowledge the emerging supporters in the House, such as Rep. Emmeline Aglipay of Diwa Party List, and commit to work with them to expand the group of FOI champions in the 16th Congress.

In the Executive, we thank Justice Secretary Leila De Lima for being the one and only Aquino Cabinet member to publicly stand up for the passage of the FOI Bill in her speech before the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC), a breath of fresh air amid the asphyxiating "it is up to Congress; we want a healthy debate" line of President Aquino and his spokespersons.

The people's movement for FOI lives on. We will never relent in our efforts to demand an open, honest, accountable, and transparent government that we all deserve.

In time, we will claim our victory. 


Signed:

[Signatories from the FOI Youth Initiative (FYI) are in blue.]

  • Nepomuceno Malaluan, Co-Director, Institute for Freedom of Information and Co-Convenor, Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition
  • Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, DD, Chairman, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines - National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA)
  • Malou Mangahas, Executive Director, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
  • Florangel Rosario-Braid, President Emeritus & Senior Adviser, Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication
  • Annie Geron, General Secretary, Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK)
  • Josua Mata, Secretary General, Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)
  • Clarissa V. Militante, Coordinator, Focus on the Global South, Philippines Programme
  • Rowena Paraan, Secretary-General, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
  • Vincent Lazatin, Executive Director, Transparency and Accountability Network
  • Luis Teodoro, Deputy Director, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
  • Leonor M. Briones, Lead Covenor, Social Watch Philippines and Chairperson, KAAKBAY Party List
  • Yuen Abana, Campaign Coordinator, Partido ng Manggagawa
  • Jun Aguilar, Filipino Migrant Workers Group
  • Elso Cabangon, Filipino Migrant Workers Group
  • Ramon R. Tuazon, President, Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication
  • Madeline B. Quiamco, Dean, Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication
  • Alwyn Alburo, Vice Chairman, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
  • Eirene Jhone Aguila, FOI and New Politics Advocate
  • Jenina Joy Chavez, Southeast Asia Monitor for Action
  • Corazon Valdez Fabros, Lead Convenor, Stop the War Coalition Philippines
  • Ana Maria R. Nemenzo, National Coordinator, WomanHealth Philippines
  • Isagani R. Serrano, President, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
  • Gerry Rivera, Pangulo, Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA)
  • Rolando Ocampo, Spokesperson, Prudentialife Warriors/Movement for Change and Good Governance
  • Red Batario, Executive Director, Center for Community Journalism and Development
  • G. Sevilla Alvarez, Program Director, Center for Community Journalism and Development
  • Mae Paner (Juana Change), Juana Change Movement
  • Mr. Ernie Ordoñez, Chairperson, Alyansa Agrikultura
  • Norman Cabrera, Secretary General, Ang Kapatiran Party
  • Joseph Anthony Lim, Professor, Economics Department, Ateneo De Manila University
  • Flordeliz L. Abanto, Broadcast Journalism Coordinator, St. Scholastica's College, Manila
  • Nicole Curato, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, UP Diliman
  • Alma Maria O. Salvador, Department of Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University
  • Carmel Abao, Department of Political Science, Ateneo De Manila University
  • Marivic Raquiza, Assistant Professor, UP-NCPAG
  • Joy Aceron, Program Director, Government Watch/ PODER, Ateneo School of Government
  • Dante G. Simbulan, Jr. Professor, De La Salle Health Science Institute
  • Anne Lan Candelaria, Department of Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University
  • Romeo Royandoyan, Centro Saka
  • Ric Reyes, President, Freedom from Debt Coalition
  • Lidy Nacpil, Regional Coordinator, Jubilee South - Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS APMMD)
  • Cielo Magno, Executive Director, Bantay Kita
  • John Carlos G. de los Reyes, Candidate for Senator (2013), Ang Kapatiran Party
  • Rizalito Y. David, Candidate for Senator (2013), Ang Kapatiran Party
  • Joseph Purugganan, Coordinator, EU-ASEAN FTA Network
  • Carlo Brolagda, Chairperson, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council (CSSPSC), UP Diliman and Convenor, FOI Youth Initiative (FYI)
  • Chris Alquizalas, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council (CSSPSC), UP Diliman and Convenor, FOI Youth Initiative (FYI)
  • Viko Fumar, President, BUKLOD CSSP, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • Joseph Angelo Gutierrez, Chairperson, Movement of Students for Progressive Leadership in UP (MOVE UP), University of the Philippines - Los Baños
  • Ace Ligsay, Chairperson, UP Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (UP ALYANSA), University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • JC Tejano, National Chairperson, Bukluran ng mga Progresibong Iskolar - UP System (BUKLURAN - UP SYSTEM), University of the Philippines System
  • Tristan Daine Zinampan, Chairperson, Linking Everyone Towards Service CDC (LETS CDC), College of Development Communication, University of the Philippines - Los Baños
  • Joshua Lorenzo Layog, Primer, Katipunan CHE, College of Human Ecology, University of the Philippines - Los Baños
  • April Lamentillo, Supremo, Sandigan ng mga Iskolar para sa Nagkakaisang CAS (SINAG CAS), College of Arts and Sciences, University of the Philippines - Los Baños
  • Deg Daupan, President, Alternatibong Katipunan ng mga Mag-aaral (AKMA), University of the Philippines - Baguio
  • Joshua Young, Chairperson, Bigkis ng mga Iskolar Para sa Bayan Tungo sa Makabuluhang Pagbabago - UPM (BIGKIS-UPM), University of the Philippines - Manila
  • Edward Dayog, President, UP Organization of Human Rights Advocates (OHRA), University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • Mickey Eva, President, Coalition for Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW Coalition)
  • John Mark Salvador, President, Bagong Benilde, De La Salle - College of Saint Benilde
  • Curt Russel Lopez Delfin, President, Metro Manila Alliance of Communication Students (MACS)
  • Marlon Cornelio, National Chaiperson, Akbayan Youth
  • Melba Tampakan, National Chairperson, Alliance of Progressive Labor - Youth (APL Youth)
  • Marian Bahalla, Chairperson, Laban COC Party, College of Communication, Polytechnic University of the Philippines
  • Arjay Mercado, President, UP Economics Towards Consciousness (ETC), University of the Philippines - Diliman 
  • Gio Alejo, President, Sanggunian ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila, Ateneo de Manila University 
  • Moses Albiento, Chairperson, Alliance of Student Leaders (ASL), Ateneo de Manila University
  • Benedict Nisperos, President, Law Student Government (LSG), College of Law, University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • Walter Tamayo, History Department Representative, AngKAS (CSSP History Department Core Group), University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • Ernest Calayag, Secretary General, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP)
  • Nico Ibaviosa, President, UP Alliance for Responsive Involvement and Student Empowerment (ARISE), College of Engineering, University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • Gibby Gorres, Executive Director, Center for Youth Advocacy and Networking (CYAN) 
  • Ara Tan, President, UP Kalipunan ng mga Mag-aaral ng Sosyolohiya (KMS), University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • Serge Aclan, Chairperson, College of Allied Medical Professions Student Council (CAMPSC), University of the Philippines - Manila
  • Jason Alacapa, Chairperson, University Student Council (UPM USC), University of the Philippines - Manila
  • Marjorie Anne Yoro, Suprema, UP Kabataang Pilosopo Tasyo (KaPiTas), University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • Karla Mae de Leon, Suprema, UP Kalipunan para sa Agham Panlipunan at Pilosopiyang Pilipino (UP KAPPP), University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • Luisa Lioanag, Bos Tsip-Tsip, UP Bukluran sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino (Buklod-Isip), University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • Patricza Torio, Tagapangulo, UP Lipunang Pangkasaysayan (LIKAS), University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • Paulina Miranda, Chairperson, College of Education Student Council (CESC), University of the Philippines - Diliman 
  • Joni Dumasig, President, Union of Progressive Students (UPS), University of the Philippines - Cebu 
  • Fred Omalza, President, People United to Lead, Obey, and Serve (PULOS), University of the Philippines - Mindanao 
  • Ema Escanilla, Speaker, UP People-Oriented Leadership in the Interest of Community Awareness (UP POLITICA), University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • Van Battad, President, UP Sirkulo ng mga Kabataang Artista (SIKAT), University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • Heart Diño, Chairperson, University Student Council (UPD USC), University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • Robin Charles Ramos, President, Cor Jesu Association of Graduate Students (CJAGS), Cor Jesu College, Digos City, Davao del Sur
  • Juan Paulo Oreta Rodriguez, Executive Board / Federation Chairman, Barkadahang San Joseño, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan  
  • Leo Christian Lauzon, Chairperson, Youth Against Debt (YAD) Eastern Visayas
  • Jennifer Julia Lacaba, President, Animal Concerns and Awareness Club (AC2), University of the Philippines - Visayas Tacloban College
  • Princess Kimberly Ubay-ubay, President, School of Business and Management Student Council (SBMSC), Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan, Cagayan de Oro City
  • Frezalva Vir Burce, Program Coordinator / Child Protection Officer, Children International - Child Sponsorship for Community Development Inc. (CSCDI), Tabaco City, Albay
  • Roy Dahildahil, Chairperson, Partido sang Mainuswagon nga Bumulutho (PMB), University of the Philippines - Visayas, Miagao, Iloilo
  • Glosuvel Requina, President, Council of Maritime Leaders (CML), University of Cebu - Maritime Education and Training Center, Cebu City
  • Cedrick Sagun, President, UST Political Science Forum (UST-TPSF), University of Santo Tomas - Manila
  • Dawn Po Quimque, President, College of Communication Student Council (COC-SC), Polytechnic University of the Philippines
  • Jonah Elaine Abubakar, President, School of Business and Management (SBM) - Business Economics Society (BES), Universidad de Zamboanga, Zamboanga City
  • Michael Villamor, President, Supreme Student Government - Northern Cebu Colleges, Bogo City, Cebu
  • Danise Talaba, President, Team Communication (TeamComm), De La Salle University - Manila
  • Xander Losaria, OIC / Secretary General, SENTRO - La Salle, De La Salle University - Dasmariñas
  • Jem Francelle Sanico, Chairperson, Samahan ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Alternatibong Reporma at Pagbabago (SAMAR Party), University of Eastern Philippines, Northern Samar
  • Charisse Marie Catama, Student Regent, University of Eastern Philippines, Northern Samar
  • Marlon Padua, Vice President for Non-Academics, STI Student Council, STI College - Southwoods, Carmona, Cavite
  • Anne Lorraine Garcia, Most Idyllic Sister, UP Sigma Beta Sorority, University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • Jana Cabuhat, President, University Student Government (DLSU USG), De La Salle University - Manila
  • Allenia Nia Chua, Vice President, Youth Aids Filipinas Alliance (YAFA), University of the Philippines - Visayas Tacloban College
  • Arisa Bajana, Lord Chancellor, Vox La Salle Debate Society, De La Salle University - Dasmariñas
  • Renier Louie Bona, Youth Representative, TLF - Sexuality, Health, and Rights Educators (TLF-SHARE) Collective, Inc.
  • Gab Andres, President, Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (TAPAT), De La Salle University - Manila
  • Kelvin Tagnipez, Chairperson, School of Economics Student Council (SESC), University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • John Tobit Cruz, President, Angat Kabataan, Taytay, Rizal
  • Migs Angeles, Secretary General, Akbayan Youth - UPD, University of the Philippines - Diliman
  • Khim Joseph Naval, President, Association of Political Science Students, University of Nueva Caceres, Naga City, Camarines Sur
  • Paolo Martin Saberon, Executive Director, Cebuano Youth Ambassadors
  • Starjoan Villanueva, Executive Director, Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao
  • Marwil Llasos, Candidate for Senator (2013), Ang Kapatiran Party
  • Carlos Cabochan,  Candidate for Representative, 2nd District of Caloocan City (2013), Ang Kapatiran Party
  • Harry Tambuatco,  Candidate for Representative, Lone district of Muntinlupa city (2013), Ang Kapatiran Party
  • Edilberto M. Cuenca,  Candidate for Representative, 1st District of Makati City (2013), Ang Kapatiran Party
  • Mr. Frank Reyes, Candidate for Representative, Lone District of Mandaluyong City (2013), Ang Kapatiran Party
  • Bong Fabe, Freelance journalist
  • Aurora Regalado, Lead Convenor, Rice Watch and Action Network
  • Pablo Rosales, Pangulo, Progresibong Alyansa ng mga Mangingisda (PANGISDA)
  • Boy Alban, Pangulo, League of Urban Poor for Action (LUPA)
  • Jun Pascua, National Coordinator, Pambansang Katipunan ng Makabayang Magbubukid (PKMM)
  • Relito Arisgado, Pangulo, Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Maralita ng Malabon
  • Elvira Baladad, Samahang 53 nd Macabud
  • Trinidad Domingo, Spokesperson, Save Agrarian Reform Alliance
  • Merci Llarinas Angeles, Executive Director, Peace Women Partners
  • Arvin A. Jo, Focal Person, The Access Initiative (TAI)-Philippines
  • Baibonn D. Sangid, Former Chairperson, Young Moro Professionals Network
  • Gloria Santos, President, Kilusan at Ugnayan ng Maralitang Pasigueño (KUMPAS)
  • Janel Pesons, Secretary General, Mindanao People's Peace Movement (MPPM)
  • Roy Jerusalem Cabonegro, Secretary General, GREENS PH (Philippine Green Party/ Partido Kalikasan) and Executive Director, Partido.Kalikasan (Greens PH) Institute Inc.
  • Ren Bondad, Sanlakas Youth
  • Alex Castro, KAISA-UP Diliman
  • Ronald Salas, Social Action Center, Maasin, Southern Leyte
  • Rafaela David, Good Governance Advocate
  • Hermie Oraya, Provincial Coordinator, Youth for Rights, Eastern Samar
  • Ronald Allan Barnacha, Chairperson, PRRM Nueva Viscaya
  • Roldan Gonzales, Executive Director, Gitib
  • Datu Jimboy Catawanan, President, SOLED-Ki
  • Chadwick Llanos, Focal Person, Cebu Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Environment
  • Grace Villanueva, Executive Director, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC)
  • Mai Taqueban, Deputy Director for Research and Policy Development, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC)
  • Manjette Lopez, President, Sanlakas Party List
  • Rasti Delizo, Alliance Coordinator, Sanlakas Party List
  • Philip Adula, Coordinator, Sanlakas, Eastern Samar
  • Jefferson Agaloos, Chairperson, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Youth Association
  • Evelyn Lacambra, President, CLAIM Lallo
  • Tanie S. Suaño, Executive Director, Convergence of NGOs/POs in Zamboanga del Sur on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development
  • Carmencita Andoy, Environmental Awareness Team, Misamis Occidental
  • Mary Ann V. Fuertes, Executive Director, Interface Development Interventions (IDIS), Davao City
  • Strauss Fernandez, Executive Secretary, RECON Philippines
  • Jean Enriquez, Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific
  • Benito Molino, Chairperson, Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz (CCOS-Zambales)
  • Jose Melvin Lamanilao, Executive Director, Paglilingkod Batas Pangkapatiran Foundation, Inc.
  • Jaybee Garganera, Coordinator, Alyansa Tigil Mina


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