24 July 2013

[FYI in Inquirer] Palace defends omissions in Sona

by Michael Lim Ubac, Leila B. Salaverria Dona Z. Pazzibugan


MalacaƱang on Tuesday defended the omission of issues that critics of President Aquino claimed should have been included in Monday’s State of the Nation Address (Sona), including the freedom of information (FOI) bill, maritime disputes with China, mining reforms, job creation and an economic road map for the second half of his term.

“Many are asking—not just necessarily about the FOI—but given the limited amount of time and if we heed these suggestions, it could take us two days listening to Sona,” said deputy press spokesperson Abigail Valte.

To appease everyone, she said that some had even suggested that the President make a checklist of all the sectors, and mention them all.

What Aquino delivered on Monday before the joint session of Congress was the longest by a sitting President since democracy was restored in 1986. The 55-page Sona consisted of 11,641 words and took the President one hour and 42 minutes to deliver in Filipino.

In an interview, Secretary Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said that the Sona was couched in the language of Juan de la Cruz since it was meant to be “a teaching and learning opportunity.”

Responding to criticism that the speech was long on details but short on some of the more urgent concerns of the people, Coloma claimed the address was “very substantial.”

“I’m in the government and yet I continue to learn from his exposition of the major policies and decisions that have to be made,” he said.

Coloma said Aquino’s attention to detail led the President to spend time explaining why the government could not just buy a fighter jet, or hire en masse new police officers, or the necessity of implementing a fare hike for passengers of the state-subsidized elevated rail system in the metropolis.

Seal of transparency

On the silence of Aquino on the FOI bill, Coloma noted that the Senate passed its version in the last Congress, and that only the House of Representatives had stalled its passage.

However, he said that “in practice, the government is already implementing all those principles of transparency and accountability” via performance-based bonuses and a transparent budgeting process, among others. He said these principles were the “essence” of the FOI.

Coloma also explained why the Sona lacked a concrete set of action plans for job creation and economic growth even after Catholic bishops chided the administration for pursuing a jobless growth.

He said the basic road map for growth was in the Philippine Development Plan. “For every outcome, there are performance indicators. The National Economic and Development Authority has embarked upon an updating of all performance indicators, and we’ll complete it by December,” he said.

Freedom of information

“FOI may not have been mentioned in the Sona, but the premise for FOI was latent throughout his talk on the tuwid na daan (straight path),” said Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat. This means the bill’s supporters have every reason to push their campaign for the bill’s passage, he said.

“I’d tell my fellow advocates to praise P-Noy for addressing corruption even from his own appointees in the National Irrigation Administration, and immigration and customs bureau,” he said. “Then we can justify the lobby for FOI by saying that if we had the law, there would be less corruption woes in the customs and other offices.”

The FOI Youth Initiative (FYI) said it would intensify its lobbying efforts to secure passage of the measure.

“With or without the FOI in the Sona, we will remain steadfast in our campaign for the enactment of this important piece of legislation. While we still hope that the President realizes the need for the FOI law to ensure broader citizens’ participation in governance and development, we don’t have the luxury of time to wait, especially in light of recent issues involving public funds allegedly being spent on bogus organizations,” Nic Angeles of FYI said in a statement.

The FOI bill seeks to strengthen public access to government data and transactions in order to improve transparency and accountability. It has been touted as a tool to combat corruption. President Aquino said during his election campaign that he would support the FOI bill.

23 July 2013

[FYI in TV5 / Interaksyon] OFW, FOI, EJK | What the SONA left out

by Lira Dalangin-Fernandez

MANILA, Philippines -- Overseas Filipino workers, the Freedom of Information Bill and extrajudicial killings. These were some of the key issues President Benigno Aquino III failed to mention in his close to two-hour state of the nation address Monday.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is also presidential adviser on OFW concerns, said while he was satisfied with the SONA, noted the lack of recognition of the country’s overseas workers.

"I am satisfied. Mayroon lamang ibang bagay na nawaglit … iyong OFWs, ang tulong na ipinakita ng ating pamahalaan (But were some things omitted … the OFWs, the assistance given them by government)," Binay said.

"Baka kulang sa oras, pero malaki talaga ang naitulong din ng ating OFWs. Remittances natin increasing ‘yan, at tuluy-tuloy na isang dahilan kaya gumanda ang ekonomiya natin ay dahil tumataas ang remittances (There may not have been enough time, but our OFWs have helped a lot. Our remittances are increasing, and one reason why our economy continues to improve is because of increasing remittances)," he added.

Several lawmakers and advocates also expressed dismay over Aquino’s failure to mention, again, the FOI bill, which he had promised to push when he campaigned for the presidency but which he has never mentioned in any of his previous SONAs.

"While he was talking about Secretary Jesse Robredo and tuwid na daan (the straight path), I thought that would have been the ideal segue for bills such as FOI. But he didn't mention it," Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat said.

Akbayan party-list Representative Ibarra Gutierrez said: "When the President talked about ensuring accountability and transparency in government service, that was the perfect opportunity to talk about FOI."

"After all, FOI will institutionalize daang matuwid. It will allow ordinary people to hold to account public offices after 2016, in the same manner the President is doing so now," he said.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines also took Aquino to task for ignoring the FOI bill, saying, “For all his lofty vows to weed out corruption, never did he mention that which would truly arm and empower the people to join the battle for genuinely good governance -- the freedom of information, that which he, time and again promised when he sought our votes and then so conveniently forgot once he came to power."

The media organization also noted that, in a lengthy presentation of “what he claims to have accomplished, and rhetoric about the path he would take us down," Aquino made no mention “of human rights and the impunity with which these continue to be violated under his watch, as the bloody list of journalists, activists, environmentalists, religious, lawyers, indigenous people and many others whose lives have been snuffed out for simply deigning to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms continues to grow."

The NUJP said what Aquino left out of his SONA “forebodes the course he has charted for his remaining three years: one laden with more broken promises and, consequently, more bloodshed."

In a separate statement, the FOI Youth Initiative said it was unfazed by the President's "snub" of the FOI bill in his speech.

The group said they would continue to push for the measure in Congress.  

[FYI in freedominfo.org, the Global Network of FOI Advocates] Aquino Doesn’t Mention FOI Legislation in Major Speech

Despite a stress on fighting corruption, Philippines President Benigno Aquino did not mention pending freedom of information legislation in his annual State of the National address (Sona) July 22

Aquino talked for one hour and 44 minutes, with 88 applause breaks, and managing to mention 65 specific topics, according to one media count.

Freedom of information wasn’t one of them.

“There was no mention of the freedom of information bill, which would have cemented the Aquino administration’s push for transparency and accountability…,” commented the Manila Standard in an editorial.

Another editorial, in the Inquirer said:

The President’s inability or unwillingness to make good on his campaign commitment to enact a Freedom of Information law in his first three years imperils the good governance platform he has himself tried to entrench. The time to push FOI is today, the first day of the first session of the 16th Congress; a paragraph in the Sona would spread the word to his reluctant allies.

Former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno was quoted in the Business Mirror as lamenting the failute to mention the FOI bill. “Too wordy. Lots of numbers, but sadly lacking in a concrete program of addressing the high and worsening joblessness problem. The FOI bill was conspicuously left out. I consider it an important aspect of openness and fiscal accountability,” Diokno said. 

On July 20, the FOI Youth Initiative, a network of 120 youth organizations pushing the passage of the Freedom of Information bill, said a mentuon of the bill by Aquino “may catalyze the favorable action that we want to see on the part of the Executive.”

“The FOI Youth Initiative (FYI) believes that the real State of the Nation can only be known if we have Freedom of Information,” the group said in a statement. “Beyond hearing the words of the President, access to information held by the government on matters of public interest should be ensured to enable the people to build and shape their own view of the true state of Philippine society.”

As Congress reconvenes, FOI bills are being introduced and supporters are hoping a more supportive person will be picked to lead the key House committee. Although the Aquino administration agreed to a compromise bill last year, no legislation was passed and many supporters felt the administration failed to support it politically and tactically despite Aquino’s record of supporting it during his campaigns.

[FYI in Rappler] #SONA2013: Youth groups disappointed

by David Lozada


Silence on FOI

The FOI Youth Initiative (FYI), a nationwide alliance of 122 youth and student groups lobbying for the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, also expressed their disappointment that FOI was not mentioned in the President’s SONA.

FYI national convener Allan Pangilinan said the FOI bill should be the Aquino administration’s priority.

“We cannot be fully aware of the true state of the nation without freedom of information...The FOI should be the centerpiece of the platform of an Administration that continuously calls for accountability among its officials,” Pangilinan said.

Nic Angeles of the UP Diliman College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (UP-CSSP) said the FOI is key to Aquino’s matuwid na daan.

“In order for citizens to be partners in the Aquino Administration’s ‘daang matuwid’, it is imperative that we are empowered by a law that institutionalizes transparency in public offices,” Angeles said.

TRANSPARENCY. FYI members submit their manifesto to the Senators
a week before the SONA. Photo from FYI's Facebook page


FYI plans to intensify its lobbying efforts in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“With or without the FOI in the SONA, we will remain steadfast in our campaign for the enactment of this important piece of legislation,” Angeles said.

Pangilinan said that FYI hope to get more legislators to support their position.

FYI hopes to engage the new Chairperson of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Information (CPI). The House is expected to announce its new committee chairpersons within the week.

FYI hopes the bill will be passed in the 16th Congress.

“While we still hope that the President realizes the need for the FOI Law to ensure broader citizens’ participation in governance and development, we don’t have the luxury of time to wait, especially in light of recent issues involving public funds allegedly being spent on bogus organizations,” Angeles said. -Rappler.com

21 July 2013

Youth Manifesto for the Passage of the People's Freedom of Information Act in the 16th Congress (ILOCANO)

Dakami nga FOI Youth Initiative (FYI) maysa nga nailian nga gunglo iti agtutubo ken organisayon dagiti agad-adal, dawaten mi ti nalawag nga pinagtaray ti gobyerno ken annongen da dagiti agserserbi iti gobyerno ti nadaras nga pannakaipasa ti People's Freedom of Information Act.

Dakami ket makikaysa kadagiti nadumaduma nga sektor iti kagimongan nga mang-gun-od iti nalawag nga mekanismo maar-aramid ti panangimaton iti turay, nawaya ken husto nga pangidaulo kadagiti umili.

Ikalinteganmi nga rebbeng mi ti mangammo kadagiti amin nga maar-aramid ken transakyon iti gobyerno kas naisaad sadiay konstitusyon, tapno magarantisaran iti kinalawag dagiti magidadaulo ken opisyales tapno agbalinda nga pagtuladan san ketdi nga isuda ti mangtubeng ti nasayaat nga pannakaipagna ti gobyerno.

Mamati kami nga ti People's FOI Act ket maysa nga addang tapno mapasardeng ti korupsyon ken naan-anay ti tinnulong nga mangpadur-as kadagiti umili.

Kontraenmi ti pannakairaman ti saan nga constitutional ken saan nga umannamong iti wayawaya ti Press, ti Right of Reply rides iti FOI Bill gapu ta ikkataten na ti esensya ti linteg a mapapigsa ti pannakaamo kadagiti tattao ti husto nga mapaspasamak.

Dawdawaten mi ken Presidente Benigno S. Aquino III, tapno kitaen na nga nalaing saan ket a simple a suporta laeng para iti panakaipasa ti FOI Bill tapno iti kasta maidanon na met la ti karina a panagbalbaliw kadagiti tattao.

Umap-apela kami pay iti amin a Senador ken Congressman tapno ipriyoridad da nga adalen ti inda pinagtataripnong iti FOI Bill ken wayaanda da dagiti manglaplapped kadaytoy nga gakat.

Kamaudiananna, dakayo nga pada mi nga agtutubo ken agad-adal, intayo koma agkaykaysa nga mangirupir iti pannakaipasa ti People's FOI Act, tapno agbalinen nga naan-anay nga linteg tapno iti kasta ti gobyerno tayo ti paggappuan ti talek dagiti umili.

20 July 2013

[FYI in Rappler] Youth groups on SONA: Pass FOI bill

by David Lozada

TIME FOR ACTION. FOI Youth Initiative members join other advocates
in filing the 'People's FOI Bill.' Photo from FYI Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines - Youth groups called on President Benigno Aquino III to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill days before his State of the Nation Address.

In a statement issued on July 19, the FOI Youth Initiative (FYI), a nationwide network of youth and student organizations, said the passage of the bill is crucial to government transparency.

“The real State of the Nation can only be known if we have Freedom of Information,” the youth group said.

FYI maintained that access to information is a key component in building the future of the country.

“Beyond hearing the words of the President, access to information held by the government on matters of public interest should be ensured to enable the people to build and shape their own view of the true state of Philippine society,” the group added.

The group noted that while the Aquino administration has expressed support for the FOI bill, no concrete steps have been taken.

“Mentioning the bill in the upcoming SONA may catalyze the favorable action that we want to see on the part of the executive,” the group added.

Growing support

FYI joined the Right to Know. Right now! coalition in filing the People’s FOI Bill on July 1.

From 88 organizations, their network of student and youth organizations has grown to 116 in a span of 3 weeks. (See full list: Youth4FOI partner organizations)

Allan Pangilinan of the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Council (UPD CSSPC) said that the FOI should be an integral part of the youth’s concerns.

“As student leaders now, we want to inherit a government that is open and honest to the people that it serves,” he added.

The youth group had also been sending copies of their manifesto to the offices of senators.

Nic Angeles of the UPD-CSSPSC said the group is hopeful senators will support them.

“In the past, most of the senators were supportive of the measure. We sincerely hope that the Senate will once again deliver on FOI, especially because many of those who won in the recent elections expressed their desire for the bill’s enactment,” Angeles said.

NATIONWIDE CAMPAIGN. FYI members create strategies to
reach out to more youth groups. Photo from FYI Facebook page

Transparency for all

If signed into law, the Freedom of Information bill will allow Filipinos to access information under the control of government — contracts, budgets and Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Networth of public servants.

In the 15th Congress, the bill failed to reach plenary.

Pangilinan urged the President to fulfill his campaign promise 3 years ago.

“The administration’s ‘daang matuwid’ can never be possible without a law that guarantees the institutionalization of concrete mechanisms for transparency and accountability. From ZTE-NBN to the PDAF scam, if we had an FOI Law, it would be easier for us to pave the way for the elimination of corruption,” he said. -Rappler.com

19 July 2013

[FYI in PCIJ] True State of Nation unknown without FOI in place

ON MONDAY, July 22, President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) to the country. In it, the President is expected to give his perspective of the true state of affairs of government, the country, and its people as he enters the fourth year of his Presidency.

But a youth group says that without a true Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in place, the true state of the nation will never be known by the public.

The FOI Youth Initiative, a network of 120 youth organizations pushing the passage of the Freedom of Information bill, says it hopes that President Aquino will finally endorse, or at least mention, the FOI bill in Monday’s SONA.

The group says that a mere mention of the FOI in the SONA “may catalyze the favorable action that we want to see on the part of the Executive.”

“The FOI Youth Initiative (FYI) believes that the real State of the Nation can only be known if we have Freedom of Information,” the group said in a statement. “Beyond hearing the words of the President, access to information held by the government on matters of public interest should be ensured to enable the people to build and shape their own view of the true state of Philippine society.”

“Hindi natin ganap na malalaman ang tunay na State of the Nation kung walang Freedom of Information,” the group added.

The FYI is part of the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition, a network of 150 organizations pushing for the immediate passage of the FOI. The network has been lobbying unsuccessfully for the passage of the FOI for the last four Congresses. However, while the Senate has consistently been warm to the idea of an FOI measure, members of the House of Representatives have repeatedly blocked the bill’s passage.

Pro-FOI groups were heartened by the victory of Benigno Aquino III in the 2010 Presidential elections, since Aquino had repeatedly stated his support for the measure. However, the President has since proven cold to the FOI bill, raising several concerns over coverage of security issues, as well as alleged abuses by the media. Taking their cue from the Palace, administration congressmen have also delayed or blocked passage of the bill, saying that even the President does not seem interested in the measure.

This, even though a study group precisely created by the President to hammer out concerns over the FOI bill had already recommended its own version of the bill.

Earlier, members of the Right to Know Right Now! Coalition filed a petition for an indirect initiative for a People’s FOI Bill, taking advantage of a law that allows ordinary citizens to propose their own laws to Congress.

[FYI in the Inquirer] Solons hope FOI will be part of Aquino’s national address

by Karen Boncocan

MANILA, Philippines—Pro-Freedom of Information Bill lawmakers on Friday said they hoped the controversial measure would make it to President Benigno Aquino III’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“I expect the President to discuss the FOI Bill in his SONA,” said Diwa Partylist Representative Emmeline Aglipay.

Aglipay was recently endorsed by fellow pro-FOI lawmakers for the public information committee chairmanship–a position they felt was integral in their plans to push for the controversial measure in the 16th Congress.

“In order for the President to be truly committed to fighting corruption he should prioritize the enactment of a law that ensures transparency and promotes accountability,” she told INQUIRER.net.

The FOI Bill hurdled deliberations in the Senate in the 15th Congress but failed to be passed by the House of Representatives.

After facing delays in the House committee on public information, the measure was stalled in the plenary and was not even debated on.

Lawmakers supporting its passage in the lower chamber of Congress noted how the FOI Bill was not mentioned in the President’s third SONA.

They hoped this time would be different.

Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr. said that there would always be an “incessant clamor” for the President to declare the measure a priority in every SONA.

“Every SONA, every LEDAC, every presidential policy declaration, there will always be that incessant clamor for FOI being declared a priority,” he said.

Cibac Partylist Representative Sherwin Tugna felt that it “would be a good sign for the bill’s chances of being a law if it would be included as a priority measure in the 16th Congress.”
But even if the FOI Bill does not make it to the President’s fourth SONA, Baguilat said that advocates of its passage would be unfazed.

He maintained that they have been focused on pushing for the bill “from the get-go even without it being mentioned in the SONA.”

“It’s still one of the priorities of this administration to pass the FOI,” he maintained.

Taking their cue from those who pushed for the approval and enactment of the Reproductive Health Law, Baguilat said he felt that they still had to “galvanize a majority of our colleagues in the House.”

He said that they also had to work on getting more support from the public “before we can realistically ask MalacaƱang or the House leadership to help push it.”

A manifestation of this effort to get the public’s support for the FOI Bill was the 120 youth and student organizations that have joined forces as the FOI Youth Initiative (FYI).

Although the group has been active in the past Congress, it said that it has intensified its efforts to get the youth’s support for the measure.

In a statement, the FYI said it “believes that the real State of the Nation can only be known if we have Freedom of Information.”

“While the administration has expressed support for the FOI Bill, we have yet to see anything positively concrete. Perhaps mentioning the bill in the upcoming SONA may catalyze the favorable action that we want to see on the part of the Executive,” the group said.

But like the pro-FOI lawmakers, the FYI said that the possibility of the President failing to mention the bill on Monday will change “nothing in our steadfast desire in carrying out the youth’s campaign for the People’s FOI.”

18 July 2013

[FYI in Media ng Bayan] Coalition of 24 groups files “People’s FOI Bill” at Senate

MANILA, July 18 (PNA) – A coalition of 24 organizations trooped on Wednesday at the Philippine Senate to file its petition for indirect initiative for the passage of its People’s Freedom of Information Bill.

Described themselves as Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition, the group filed their petition which was similar to the one it filed at the House of Representatives last July 1.

"The Indirect Initiative is a mechanism under Republic Act 6735 (Initiative and Referendum Law) empowering people's organizations to directly propose a bill to Congress," the FOI Youth Initiative (FYI) said in its statement.

The FOI Youth Initiative (FYI) is a network of youth and student organizations that call for transparency and accountability in government through the immediate passage of the FOI in the country.

The People’s FOI bill is expected to boost the campaign of Senators Teofisto ‘TG’ Guingona III and Alan Peter Cayetano to finally pass the FOI bill in the 16th Congress which opens on Monday.

Guingona and Cayetano have already filed their respective version of the FOI bill early this month, supporting all calls for complete transparency in the government's transactions and processes.

The highest stage the Freedom of Information Act has reached so far is the Bicameral Conference Committee Report which was ratified in the Senate but failed to do so in Congress for lack of quorum on the final session day of the 14th Congress.

The coalition is composed of Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO), Social Watch Philippines, Focus on the Global South—Philippines, Transparency and Accountability Network (TAN) and Peace Women Partners.

Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) is also part of the coalition along with Prudentialife Warriors Pilipinas, Filipino Migrant Workers Group (FMWG), Aksyong Kabayanihan sa Organisadong Pagbabago (ANGKOP), Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Ang Kapatiran Party, Action for Economic Reforms, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Woman Health Philippines, Partido ng Mangagawa, Bantay Kita, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), and FOI Youth Initiative (FYI).

The FOI Youth Initiative has at least 116 partner organizations from the country’s private and state universities, including University of the Philippines and Ateneo. (Jelly F. Musico/Media ng Bayan)

[FYI in PCIJ] FOI advocates visit Senate, file People’s FOI Bill

MEMBERS OF THE Right to Know Right Now Coalition, an organization of more than 150 organizations pushing the passage of the long-delayed Freedom of Information bill, stormed the Senate yesterday to press legislators to move on the measure immediately.

Coalition lead convenor Nepomuceno Malaluan filed the coalition’s petition for an indirect initiative for the People’s FOI Bill with the Senate secretariat. The petition takes advantage of the mechanism provided by Republic Act 6735 or the Initiative and Referendum Act, which allows people’s organizations to propose a bill to Congress.

With this mechanism, a people’s bill will still go through the regular legislative mill, but will now “have precedence over pending legislative measures on the committee.”

Through the People’s FOI bill, the coalition hopes to spur Congress into finally passing the FOI after so many failed attempts. FOI advocates had hoped for a speedy passage of the bill with the assumption of President Benigno S. Aquino III, but were spurned when the chief executive eventually appeared to be cool to the measure.

This, even though Malacanang had previously created a Palace study group to hammer out a common bill that would be supported by both the executive and the FOI advocates.

Malaluan said the groups that joined him in filing the People’s FOI bill include the Philippine Airlines Employees Association, the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation, Prudentiallife Warriors, CODE-NGO, Transparency and Accountability Network, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, Alliance of Progressive Labor, and Aksyong Kabayanihan Para sa Organisadong Pagbabago.

Also joining the filers were representatives from the youth sector through the FOI Youth Initiative, now composed of 118 youth organizations spread throughout the country.

The coalition had filed a counterpart petition with the House of Representatives earlier this month. Advocates acknowledged that the real battle for the FOI takes place in the lower chamber, and not in the Senate, since most of the opposition to the FOI bill have consistently come from the House of Representatives. This, even though the President is supposed to exercise the most influence over the lower chamber, where he holds the majority.

In the 15th Congress, Congressmen succeeded in delaying the approval of the FOI bill in the House Committee on Public Information until the last two weeks of session of Congress. By then, there was already little time left for any substantial discussion of the bill on the floor.

Anti-FOI legislators then killed the FOI bill in the 15th Congress by raising other measures of more local concern in the last days of session. With that, FOI advocates had to go back to square one with yet another version of the FOI bill.

Malaluan expressed confidence that the group’s new tack would give the FOI bill a better chance of getting through the legislative wringer.

“With the bills filed, we now shift to the grind of the legislative process and movement building,” he said. “At the House, our champions are also moving.”

11 July 2013

[FYI and DLSU TAPAT in the Inquirer] Pro-FOI solons hope to use ‘charm’ to pass bill

MANILA, Philippines — “Youth and experience” combined with “charm and “convincing power” have made Diwa Partylist Representative Emmeline Aglipay a top nominee for the chairmanship of the committee on public information at the House of Representatives.

The nomination was endorsed by authors of the contentious Freedom of Information Bill who in a manifesto to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte cited Aglipay’s good track record as a public servant, her “charm and convincing power” as a lady legislator and belief that she can push the measure’s approval in the House.

Cibac Partylist Representative Sherwin Tugna, one of the proponents of the bill in the 15th Congress, said that “most of the previous primary authors of the FOI bill endorsed Congresswoman Em Aglipay to be the chairman of the committee on public information”.

“We have signed a manifesto expressing that we are nominating her and requesting the Speaker to consider her and for her to be eventually be voted upon by the House to be Chairman,” he said.

Lawmakers supporting the FOI Bill sent the letter to Belmonte on Tuesday but the group has yet to set a meeting with the House leader.

Aglipay also received the support of the FOI Youth Initiative (FYI), a group which has been active in lobbying for the FOI measure in the 15th Congress.

“We in the FYI believe that she represents the new brand of leadership that we need in Congress—one that is empowered by youth and experience,” the group said.

“As Chairperson of the Committee on Public Information, we are certain that Rep. Aglipay, with her strong commitment to transparency and accountability, will be at the forefront of the passage of important measures that are consistent with the agenda of this government,” it added.

Aglipay was an alumna of Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat), one of FYI’s partner organizations.

The Diwa partylist lawmaker told INQUIRER.net that she was “honored by the endorsement of FYI as the Chairperson of the Committee on Public Information.”

“I shall be committed to promoting accountability and transparency regardless of who the choice for Chairperson would finally be,” she said.

She also said that she was endorsed by Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr., Dinagat Representative Kaka Bag-ao, Akbayan Partylist Representatives Walden Bello and Barry Gutierrez, Pasig Representative Roman Romulo, Tugna and Ang Nars Partylist Representative Leah Paquiz.

The FOI bill is expected to be taken up anew when the 16th Congress opens this July.

It reached the plenary in the 15th Congress but was not deliberated on.

Statement on FOI from the UP People-Oriented Leadership in the Interest of Community Awareness (POLITICA)

FYI Statement of Support for the Nomination and Endorsement of Rep. Emmeline Aglipay as Chairperson of the House Committee on Public Information

08 July 2013

Youth Manifesto for the Passage of the People's Freedom of Information Act in the 16th Congress (CAPAMPANGAN)

Ikami yng FOI Youth Initiative (FYI), metung a pambansang ugnayan da reng aguman da reng kayanacan ampong estudyanti, a manawagan ban mika metung a gubyernung alang sasalikut ampong miki pananagutan queng pauli na ning pangapasar na ning People's Freedom of Information Act.

Makibuklud kami kareng aliwang dake na ning lipunan keng pamag-angad keng metung a mas matatag a mekanismung mamye dalan keng gubyernung makabuklat at tapat kareng memalen.

Sasang-ayun kaming dapat neng mipasar ing People's FOI Act ban mas midinang sicanan ing karapatan tamu kareng impormasyun a makapalub keng Saligang Batas at ban atiyak tana na ing pangabuklat dareng opisyal ning gubyernu at aliwa pang kawani at ban ali yamu simpling direksyun da reng mapilan a saklo ning karelang terminu ning pamanungkulan.

Maniwala kaming yng People's FOI Act yng paralan ban milako yng katiwalian at magsulung keng pakia-abe king pamangubyernu nung nukarin tune makinabang la reng bawat Pilipinu.

Tututul kami keng pamagkabit na ning probisyung Right of Reply a labag keng Saligang Batas at kontra king kalayan keng pamunye pamahayag keng kilub na ning FOI Bill uling papalabno na nini ing diwa ning metung a panukalang batas a maglayung pasicanan ing karapatan keng impormasyun dareng egana-ganang Pilipinu.

Ilingan mi kang Presidenti Benigno S. Aquino III na igitan na ing simpling deklarasyun ning suporta keng pangasabatas na ning FOI Bill at itakda neng "certified as urgent" bilang pamagtupad king keyang pengakung pamagbayu kareng memalen.

Manapela kami kareng sablang Senador ampong Kinatawan ning Ka-16 a Kongresu na agad deng ibili ing FOI Bill keng mumunang parti na ning adyendang panglehislatibu at ilako da la reng balakid a sasalabat keng pangapasar na nini.

Higit king nanu man, manawagan kami kareng lupa ming lider king dake da reng kayanacan a makiabe keng kekaming laban ban mipasar ne ing People's FOI Act a tuluyang magbayu keng kekatamung gubyernu ban maging yang metung a institusyung karapat-dapat keng tiwala da reng memaleng paglingkuran na nini.

07 July 2013

Youth Manifesto for the Passage of the People's Freedom of Information Act in the 16th Congress (CEBUANO)

Kami ang FOI Youth Initiative (FYI), usa ka alyansa sa mga kapunongan sa mga batan-on og mga estudyante nga nanawag para sa matin aw og responsible nga pangagamhanan para sa pagdali nga pagpasa sa People's Freedom of Information Act.

Nakig-usa kami sa lain-lain nga mga sektor sa komunidad nga nangsampit para sa mas tarong nga mekanismo nga mutabang sa paghimo nga mas abli og tinuod nga gobyerno sa katawhan.

Nagtuo mi nga ang atong katungod sa impormasyon nga gigarantiya sa Batakang Balaod kinahanglan mahimoan og haom nga balaod aron masigurado nga ang matinaw nga pangagamhanan mabutang sa panghunahuna sa atong mga opisyal og empleyado sa gobyerno.

Nagtuo mi nga ang People's FOI Act ang usa ka mekanismo nga daku ang tabang sa pagamay o pagtangtang sa pangungurakot og sa pag-asdang sa participatory governance para sa tanang Pilipino.

Dili mi musugot sa pag-apil og Right of Reply sa FOI Bill tungod kay mawad an ug bisa ang FOI Bill nga unta palig onon ang atong katungod nga makakuha ug impormasyon sa gobyerno.

Among gitawag si President Benigno S. Aquino III nga mugawas sa iyang isturya ra nga suporta sa FOI Bill og i-deklara ni nga balaod nga kinahanglan na dayon ipasar aron mahitabo ang iyang gipasaligan nga reporma sa mga Pilipino.

Nanghangyo mi sa tanang Senador og Representante sa Ika-16 nga Kongreso nga unahon ang FOI Bill sa ilang prioridad og tangtangon ang tanang mga babag nga nagpadugay sa pagpasar niani.

Mosampit usab kami sa tanang lider nga estudyante og batan-on nga muapil sa pakipagbisog para sa malampusong pag-pasar sa People's FOI Act aron ang atong gobyerno mahimong mas takos sa atong pagsalig.

Youth Manifesto for the Passage of the People's Freedom of Information Act in the 16th Congress (TAGALOG)

Kami ang FOI Youth Initiative (FYI), isang pambansang ugnayan ng mga samahan ng mga kabataan at mag-aaral na nananawagan para sa pagkakaroon ng pamahalaang bukas at may pananagutan sa pamamagitan ng pagpapasa ng People's Freedom of Information Act.

Nakikibuklod kami sa iba’t ibang sektor ng lipunan sa paghangad ng mga mas matatag na mekanismong magbibigay-daan sa pamamahalang bukas at tapat sa mga mamamayan.

Sumasang-ayon kaming nararapat na mainsitusyonalisa sa pamamagitan ng People's FOI Act ang ating karapatan sa impormasyon na nakapaloob sa Saligang Batas upang matiyak na ang pagiging bukas ng mga pampublikong opisyal at kawani ay maging praktika at hindi lamang simpleng diskresyon ng mga indibidwal na saklaw ng kanilang termino ng panunungkulan.

Naniniwala kaming ang People's FOI Act ay isang paraan para mawaksi ang katiwalian at maisulong ang pakikilahok sa pamamahala kung saan tunay na makikinabang ang bawat Pilipino.

Tumututol kami sa paglagay ng probisyon ng Right of Reply na labag sa Saligang Batas at kontra sa kalayaan ng pamamahayag sa loob ng FOI Bill dahil pinalalabnaw nito ang diwa ng isang panukalang batas na naglalayong palakasin ang karapatan sa impormasyon ng lahat ng Pilipino.

Hinihiling namin kay Pangulong Benigno S. Aquino III na higitan ang simpleng deklarasyon ng suporta sa pagsasabatas ng FOI Bill sa pamamagitan ng pagtatakda ritong "certified as urgent" sa pagsasakatuparan ng kanyang pangako ng pagbabago sa mga mamamayan.

Umaapela kami sa lahat ng Senador at Kinatawan ng Ika-16 na Kongreso na agad na ilagay ang FOI Bill bilang pangunahing bahagi ng adyendang panlehislatibo at tanggalin ang lahat ng balakid na humaharang sa pagpapasa nito.

Higit sa lahat, nananawagan kami sa aming mga kapwa lider sa hanay ng kabataan na sumama sa amin sa laban para maisabatas na ang People's FOI Act na tuluyang magbabago sa ating pamahalaan para maging institusyong karapat-dapat sa tiwala ng mga mamamayang pinaglilingkuran nito.

[FYI in Rappler] Youth groups support 'People's FOI bill'

by David Lozada, 06 July 2013

YOUTH VOICE. Youth groups call for the passage of the Freedom of Information bill
on the 16th Congress. [Graphic from Rappler]

Manila, Philippines - At least 93 youth and student organizations have pledged their support for the "people's version" of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill. (See list here: FYI Partner Organizations)

On Monday, July 1, members of the FOI Youth Initiative (FYI) joined the Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition in filing the "People's FOI bill" through an indirect initiative -- a mechanism in the Constitution that allows any “duly accredited people’s organization” to file a petition in Congress for a law they want passed. This also allows the bill to have precedence over other pending bills in the same committee.

At that time, only 88 youth organizations have given their support for the measure. Rebekka de Jesus of the University of the Philippines Economics Towards Consciousness (UP ETC) said the campaign targets the youth to become more involved in the passage of the FOI bill.

“This is the youth’s issue, too. We plan to increase the number of our organizations in FYI from eighty-eight to a hundred before the President delivers his State of the Nation Address,” de Jesus said.

She also said FYI plans to go one step further -- they want to hold a dialogue with President Aquino to convince him to pass a law that is essential in his battle against corruption.

Transparency for all

For Anne Trajano of UP ETC, FOI's benefits also extends to students.

"Bilang estudyante, sa katayuan ko, mas mapapadali yung research at mas mapapamura yung cost ng pagkuha ng mga information," Trajano said.

(As a student, research on the different information from the government will be easier and the cost lesser, if the FOI law is in place.)

UP-Alyansa chair JC Tejano said the "People's FOI Bill" is a proactive measure geared towards stopping corruption and promoting transparency in the government.

"We can have or at least reduce corruption in the government and ensure that 'yung ating mga pinuno o lider sa ating bayan ay accountable at responsible sa kanilang ginagawa," Tejano said.

(We can reduce corruption in the government and ensure that our leaders will be accountable and responsible for their actions.)

‘People’s bill’

Under the proposed bill, Filipinos will have access to information under the control of any government agency. It will give access to budgets, contracts and the assets, liabilities and network of public servants.

During the 15th Congress, the bill only hurdled the committee level and failed to reach the plenary.

Although the bill has known advocates in the House -- such as Ifugao Rep Teddy Baguilat, Dinagat Islands Rep Kaka Bag-ao, Akbayan Party-list Rep Walden Bello, DIWA Party-list Rep Emmeline Aglipay and CIBAC Representatives Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales and Sherwin Tugna -- De Jesus said citizen participation is key to getting the bill passed.

“We want them to know that ordinary citizens can become part of the process of drafting and enacting laws. While we have formidable champions in both Houses of Congress, having a people’s bill in the legislative mill is important because this builds an active citizenry that fights for our right to information,” she said.

FYI targets to have at least 100 partner organizations before the SONA. - with reports from Angela Casauay/Rappler.com

04 July 2013

The Ateneo Debate Society on the People's FOI Bill

Last July 1, the 16th Congress of the Philippines received the filing of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill. The said bill allows all Filipino citizens to access any record under the control of a government agency. By making available to the public all information relating to official transactions, the FOI Bill aims to promote transparency and accountability within the halls of government.

We, the Ateneo Debate Society (ADS), have joined the FOI Youth Initiative (FYI) in solidarity with other organizations that support the bill’s passage. As a society whose primary advocacy is the spread of discourse within the university, we believe that the FOI Bill is key to achieving the same productive discussion and analysis on the national level.

Democracies only function because of the public, when people pay for their taxes, elect their officials, and fulfill their civic duties. These people are also the main stakeholders affected by whatever decisions and transactions their government makes. All actions undertaken by the government should then logically point to what best serves the public, as they are both its main enablers and recipients.

We believe that freedom of information is a right. In the same way that public goods and services are meant for the people and owned by the people, citizens deserve to have information on government decisions. Through the FOI Bill, all relevant data, figures, and facts truly become property of the people. It is only through the transparency provided by the bill that the public can hold their officials accountable for all their actions. A good government can only be achieved if the public takes on the responsibility to ensure that proper procedures and protocols are being followed by those they have put in positions of power, and if they have the necessary information immediately accessible to them.

Only the FOI can bring power back to the people, by giving them the legal recourse to ask for information without being refused or ignored. This bill compels officials to follow due process, so that there is nothing for them to hide from the public. It also encourages the masses to never settle for anything less than genuine accountability. It sways them into asking their officials the more hard-hitting questions, as they will no longer be denied honest answers.

With all this in mind, the Ateneo Debate Society, along with the FOI Youth Initiative, urgently implores the 16th Congress of the Philippines to pass the Freedom of Information Bill now.
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