03 October 2013

[FYI in the Northern Philippine Times] Editorial: Freedom of information

At a time when the people, are losing faith in top elected and executive officials of this country because of scams and scandals involving public funds like the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), officials who profess to serve the country with “tuwid na daan” should now act with speed and sincerity in making sure that an honest-to-goodness Freedom of Information bill would be ratified.  
 It is also high time that the President concretely expresses his support for this piece of legislation that will institutionalize transparency and accountability in government.

The sponsorship of the People’s Freedom of Information Bill ahead of its original schedule in the Senate, as propounded by Sen. Grace Poe, is most welcome. Indeed, the right of the people to access to information should be taken seriously by senators, congressmen and other top officials.
Proponents, to include the FOI Youth Initiative, are saying the House of Representatives should take their cue from their counterparts in the handling of the FOI bill if they are serious in transforming government into an institution that is transparent and trustworthy.

The Lower House, they said, should guarantee that the measure will be considered the soonest possible time by the committee on public information headed by Rep. Jorge Almonte.

It may be asking for the moon, but then the country’s top elected officials may yet be made to ratify the FOI bill considering they would be opening themselves and other branches of government like executive and judiciary to scrutiny on how they use their PDAF and other public funds.   

Those in government who profess to the ideals of “tuwid na daan” should now show the way in making government transparent in how it uses public funds. The public is watching and basing from surveys, they want a Freedom of Information Law now to check excesses of government and make it more responsive to the needs of the people.

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