24 August 2015

'The fight for FOI is still alive' —FOI Youth Initiative (FYI)

We are the FOI Youth Initiative (FYI), a network of more than 200 youth and student organizations from all over the Philippines that seek the passage of the People's Freedom of Information Act. We are part of the Right to Know, Right Now! (R2KRN) Coalition, a national alliance of groups and individuals campaigning for transparency and accountability in government. We have been active in many efforts to push for the enactment of the said measure—from participating in mass actions and lobbying activities to being one of the co-sponsors of the People's FOI Act filed through indirect initiative in both Houses of Congress.

Recently, the R2KRN Coalition released a statement declaring the FOI Bill as "dead". Upon consulting our members, we decided not to be a signatory primarily due to the fact that, as the youth, it is an imperative for us to remain hopeful in the legislative struggle. As mentioned in the statement, the campaign has went on for 15 years already. The FYI is only 3 years old, and we believe that we can still do so much more, just like our elders and predecessors. We are not saying that we will wait for another decade for us to be able to join in the Coalition's current pronouncement. We simply want to preserve a glimmer of hope for our members and our fellow young Filipinos. 

We respect the assessment of the R2KRN Coalition. Even if we are not a signatory of the statement, we acknowledge the circumstances surrounding the progress of the measure in the legislative mill. With this, we strongly reiterate our call to President Benigno S. Aquino III, Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte, Jr., and House Majority Leader Neptali M. Gonzales II to fulfill the promise of change of this Administration by showing a sincere and tangible initiative to ensure that the People's FOI Act is passed into law.

It is clear that none of us in the FYI and the R2KRN Coalition have given up. As mentioned in their statement, "our fight for an effective, working, and living FOI, lives on." We are one with them in this call. The FYI will continue the task of lobbying in Congress to convince legislators that the People's FOI Act must finally be approved. We call on the youth to contact their Representatives to tell them to uphold their duty to embody our aspirations as their constituents by saying YES to FOI. 

In simpler words, it ain't over 'til it's over.

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