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

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