Why are congressmen lukewarm in passing the FOI bill?
The Freedom of Information bill, long sought for approval by media and the Filipino taxpaying public has been by-passed by the 14th Congress and may suffer the same fate in the on-going 15th. This bill was passed already by the Senate during the 14th , but the Lower House simply ignored it in spite of former Speaker Prospero Nograles’ assurance it will pass. Reason: No quorum!!!
The experience of the recently concluded impeachment trial that effected the dismissal of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona should teach Congress a lesson or two when the ousted CJ employed all the technicalities under his sleeves in denying information of violation of law as regards his statement, Assets, liabilities and net worth during the 5-month trial. The prosecution just had to devise means to get the information by a sure-fire means that has become public knowledge already.
The bill is being re-filed now by Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan and he renamed it People’s Ownership of Government Information (POGI). It is expected that this will breeze through in the Senate for approval. Will it get the nod in the Lower House this time? We should seek information from our congressmen their individual stand on this neglected must be “bill” but appearing reluctant to pass it.
The “POGI” bill is a vital step towards the eradication of graft and corruption that have plagued this nation for a long, long time. It will give life to a constitutional provision on transparency in government operations and certainly it will effectively contribute to a large measure the success of President Noynoy Aquino administration’s battle cry… “Matuwid na daan”.
Congressmen should be aware of Section 7, Article III of the Constitution under the Bill of Rights provision which states:
“The 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 citizens, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law”.
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