20 June 2010

FOI: For Our Information

For a long while, public access to information is frustratingly hard. It may be guaranteed by the Constitution but not yet codified by law. House Bill 133 could change that and oblige the government to disclose information whenever.

Having a law such as this had made it possible for Hong Kong to be the ‘most economically free’ country to date.

This Act to Ensure Public Access to Official Records, Documents, and Any Other Information of Public Concern would allow ‘absolute and mandatory access’ to official information, whether written, oral, or visual. Authored by Bayan Muna Reps. Teodoro “Teddy” Casino and Neri Colmenares, ‘the bill aims to ensure transparency and accountability in government and, ultimately, good and clean governance by laying down the procedures for the exercise of that right.’

If enacted, ‘all classified information contained in all government agency records that (1) are more than 25 years old, and (2) have been determined to have historical value shall be automatically declassified whether or not the records have been reviewed.’

Pres. Benigno “Noynoy" Aquino III agreed with this and vowed to ratify the bill once he steps in. Pilipina Ako couldn’t agree with him further. Information is power, and those who can have it could do with it whatever they please. How would the government people learn to handle accountability and responsibility if some people would rather spend their days watching someone else’s back?

This could safeguard the nation from abuse of the very people it has elected, but what will be the consequence? It could encourage crooked politicians to test their limits. It could disarm the public, assuming that a mere piece of legislation could already dishearten a politician intending to corrupt.

Yes. What Pilipina Ako is proposing would be long and tedious. But if we let ourselves depend on a paper, when will we learn? The 62 countries that already favor a law such as this aren’t still spared from dishonesty and corruption. Every privilege has a limit. What makes the governed think that the governors will turn themselves in? Pilipina Ako's proof is this list of the legislators who were among the proponents of the bill but were absent during the roll call.

Abaya, Joseph Emilio A.
Agbayani, Victor Aguedo E.
Agyao, Manuel S.
Almario, Thelma Z.
Alvarez, Antonio C.
Amatong, Rommel C.
Angping, Maria Zenaida B.
Arnaiz, George P.
Arroyo, Diosdado M.
Arroyo, Ignacio T.
Balindong, Pangalian M.
Barzaga, Elpidio Jr. F.
Biron, Ferjenel G.
Bondoc, Anna York P.
Briones, Nicanor M.
Cagas, Marc Douglas IV C.
Cajayon, Mary Mitzi L.
Castro, Fredenil H.
Celeste, Arthur F.
Chong, Glenn A.
Clarete, Marina P.
Climaco, Mara Isabelle G.
Coscolluela, Ma. Carissa O.
Daza, Paul R.
Dimaporo, Abdullah D.
Dumarpa, Faysah RPM
Durano, Ramon VI H.
Dy, Faustino III G.
Enverga, Wilfrido Mark M.
Estrella, Conrado III
Fabian, Erico Basillo A.
Fernandez, Danilo Ramon S.
Ferrer, Jeffrey P.
Fua, Orlando B.
Fuentebella, Arnulfo P.
Garcia, Albert S.
Garcia, Pablo P.
Gonzales, Aurelio Jr. D.
Gonzalez, Raul Jr. T.
Gullas, Eduardo R.
Gunigundo, Magtanggol I.T.
Hofer, Ann K.
Ilagan, Luzviminda C.
Jala, Adam Relson R.
Jikiri, Yusop H.
Kho, Antonio T.
Lacson, Jose Carlos V.
Lagdameo, Antonio Jr. F.
Lim, Teodoro
Mamba, Manuel N.
MaraƱon, Alfredo III D.
Matugas, Francisco T.
Mercado, Roger G.
Nava, Joaquin Carlos Rahman A.
Nicolas, Reylina G.
Pancho, Pedro M.
Pancrudo, Candido Jr. P.
Plaza, Rodolfo G.
Prieto-Teodoro, Monica
Puno, Roberto V.
Ramiro, Herminia M.
Remulla, Jesus Crispin C.
Reyes, Victoria H.
Robes, Arturo B.
Rodriguez-Zaldirriaga, Adelina
Romarate, Guillermo Jr. A.
Romualdez, Ferdinand Martin G.
Romulo, Roman T.
Salvacion, Andres Jr., D.
Santiago, Narciso III D.
Singson, Ronald V.
Suarez, Danilo E.
Teodoro, Marcelino R.
Teves, Pryde Henry A.
Tieng, Irwin C.
Uy, Edwin C.
Uy, Rolando A.
Uy, Reynaldo S.
Villarosa, Ma. Amelita C.
Yu, Victor L.
Zamora, Ronaldo B.

This list just proves that, although House Bill 133 is a righteous piece of legislation, there is a great probability that it would be trashed in time.


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