03 February 2016

FOI Youth Initiative: Congress failed the Constitution

The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines was ratified by a nationwide plebiscite on February 2, 1987, exactly 29 years ago.

Article III, Section 7 states that "[t]he right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law."

29 years have passed and we still do not have a law that will enable our right to information. The 16th Congress has failed to deliver on its promise to pass the People's Freedom of Information Act (House Bill No. 5801), which is also the same as failing the Constitution that it has committed to uphold and protect.

We in the FOI Youth Initiative (FYI) express our utmost indignation against the leaders of Congress who led us to believe that the People's FOI Act was their priority. We condemn the legislators who connived in silence to prevent this important measure from even reaching the plenary floor. 

However, amid our frustration, we would like to thank our FOI champions led by Representatives Teddy Baguilat, Kaka Bag-ao, Leni Robredo, Dina Abad, Barry Gutierrez, Em Aglipay-Villar, Leah Paquiz, and Gus Tambunting for their inspiring leadership in the campaign for transparency and accountability in government against seemingly insurmountable odds.

As we close our 16th Congress campaign, we in the FYI are grateful for the support of the 256 youth organizations that joined our ranks for the past three years as we struggled to institutionalize honesty and openness in government through the People's FOI Act. We also thank our elders in the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition for helping us amplify the voice of the youth in this fight.

Now, our resolve remains steadfast. As the elections draw near, we will ensure that our members from all over the country will help elect candidates who will deliver on the promise to enact FOI into law and shun those who hide behind the prevailing shroud that covers their corrupt practices in government. 

Tuloy ang laban ng kabataan para sa isang pamahalaang bukas at may pananagutan!

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