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News :: Human Rights : International : Media : Politics : Social Welfare
Philippines: Coalition Clamor for the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill
19 Jan 2013
Still enough time for FOI – if House leadership supports it. With only nine session days remaining before Congress adjourns for a long election break, members of the Right to Know Right Now Coalition are reminding members of Congress that they still have enough time to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill even without the prodding of Malacanang.
2013-FOI-Philippines-Freedom-Information.jpg
All that is needed, the Coalition says, is a clear commitment from the leaders of the House of Representatives.

In a statement signed by more than a hundred organizations, the Coalition challenged House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Majority Leader Neptali M. Gonzales II to declare the bill as urgent so as to facilitate its immediate passage.

Under Rule X, Section 52 of the House Rules, the Committee on Rules, through the Majority Leader, “may declare a bill or resolution urgent and consider it in accordance with a timetable.”

If the House leaders would not act immediately on the FOI bill, the Coalition says the current House leadership would just go the way of their predecessors in the 14th Congress, who killed the FOI bill on its last hurdle.

In a press briefing today (Jan. 18) at Annabel’s Restaurant in Quezon City, the Coalition joined the authors of the bill in the House of Representatives, media groups, netizens and bloggers, business groups and leaders of the Catholic Church in calling on House leaders to “muster the political will” and “rally” lawmakers to pass the FOI bill even without President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III’s certification of the bill as urgent.

The Coalition also says that the non-passage of the FOI bill would be “the supreme irony” for re-electionist lawmakers who would once again court voters with “more and newer promises of reforms” in the coming elections.

The Coalition issued the following statement:

FOI: A Bill that Unites
18 January 2013

JUST as it happened in the 14th Congress, the Senate of the 15th Congress has delivered yet again and passed on third and final reading the long-awaited Freedom of Information Act. And just as it happened in the 14th Congress, the FOI bill once again teeters on the brink of death in the House of Representatives of the 15th Congress.

The leaders of the House have two choices: Kill the FOI bill by extended inaction, as their counterparts did in the 14th Congress, or act with dispatch and muster the political will to bring to light a law that will empower citizens to participate directly in the drive for good governance and against corruption.

Even without a certification from the President as to the necessity of the FOI bill’s immediate enactment, the House Committee on Rules, through the Majority Leader, is empowered to declare a bill urgent to facilitate its immediate passage. This is a clear option that the House leaders can take to fast-track the bill in the nine session days left from the resumption of session on January 21 to the next adjournment on Feb. 9, 2013.

Rule X, Section 52, of the House Rules reads:

“Urgent Bills and Resolutions. – The Committee on Rules, through the Majority Leader, may declare a bill or resolution urgent and consider it in accordance with a timetable. The timetable, prepared by the Committee on Rules, shall fix the date when the bill or resolution must be reported by the committee concerned, the number of days or hours to be allotted to the consideration of the bill or resolution in plenary session, and the date and hour debate must be concluded and final vote taken.”

The FOI bill is a bill that unites all sectors of Philippine society. The right to information is every citizen’s human right, and the passage of the FOI bill for the effective operationalization of this human right is every citizen’s demand.

As things stand, the FOI bill is just a few steps away from passing into law. It would be most unfortunate if, by sheer inaction of the House, the citizens will again be denied a legislation that is truly crucial to solidifying and institutionalizing governance reforms. The pending bill in the House, without the right-of-reply rider, is already a balanced bill. It adopts fully Malacañang’s inputs addressing the President’s concerns, and enjoys wide support from stakeholders.

The opportunity costs of not passing the bill are clear. Non-passage means a waste of painstaking efforts, resources, and taxpayers’ money. The FOI bill will have to go through, yet again, the tortuous legislative process in the next Congress.

Yet other than these cost concerns, the death of the FOI bill in the 15th Congress could well be an indictment on how some politicians eschew political reforms, particularly those that may diminish their perks and prerogatives. The death of the FOI bill would be the supreme irony that politicians in the House seeking reelection or election to new positions could offer to voters whom they are now courting with more and newer promises of reforms.

We challenge the members of the House of Representatives who continue to resist the passage of the FOI bill, to cast their personal fears aside and take a stand for FOI. We exhort Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to be a leader, and rally his colleagues to pass the FOI bill now.

Signed:

1. Atty. Nepomuceno Malaluan, Co-Director, Institute for Freedom of Information and Co-Convenor, Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition
2. Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, DD, Chairman, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA)
3. Atty. Roan Libarios, President, Integrated Bar of the Philippines
4. Ms. Malou Mangahas, Executive Director, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
5. Mr. Peter Angelo V. Perfecto, Executive Director, Makati Business Club
6. Ms. Annie Geron, General Secretary, Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK)
7. Prof. Luis Teodoro, Deputy Director, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility

8. Mr. Josua Mata, Secretary General, Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)
9. Ms. Yuen Abana, Campaign Coordinator, Partido ng Manggagawa
10. Ms. Clarissa V. Militante
Coordinator, Focus on the Global South, Philippines Programme
11. Mr. Jun Aguilar; Mr. Elso Cabangon, Filipino Migrant Workers Group
12. Mr. Max M. De Mesa, Chairperson, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
13. Mr. Ramon R. Tuazon, President; Dr. ?Florangel Rosario-Braid, President Emeritus & Senior Adviser; Ms. Madeline B. Quiamco, Dean
Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication
14. Atty. Roberto Eugenio Cadiz, Executive Director, Libertás
15. Mr. Alwyn Alburo, Vice Chairman; Ms. Rowena Paraan, Secretary-General, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
16. Prof. Leonor M. Briones, Lead Covenor, Social Watch Philippines
17. Ms. Maxine Tanya Hamada, Executive Director, International Center for Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance (INCITEGov)
18. Mr. Ariel Sebellino, Executive Director, Philippine Press Institute
19. Dr. Edna A. Co, Professor, University of the Philippines Diliman
20. Mr. Norman Cabrera, Secretary General; Mr. John Carlos G. de los Reyes, Candidate for Senator (2013); Mr. Rizalito Y. David, Candidate for Senator (2013)
Atty. Marwil Llasos, Candidate for Senator (2013); Mr. Carlos Cabochan, Candidate for Representative, 2nd District of Caloocan City (2013); Mr. Harry Tambuatco, Candidate for Representative, Lone district of Muntinlupa city (2013); Mr. Edilberto M. Cuenca, Candidate for Representative, 1st District of Makati City (2013); Mr. Frank Reyes, Candidate for Representative, Lone District of Mandaluyong City (2013), Ang Kapatiran Party
21. Atty Eirene Jhone Aguila, FOI and New Politics Advocate
22. Ms. Joy Aceron, Program Director, Government Watch/ PODER, Ateneo School of Government
23. Mr. Sixto Donato C. Macasaet, Executive Director, Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO)
24. Ms. Jenina Joy Chavez, Southeast Asia Monitor for Action
25. Mr. Vincent Lazatin, Executive Director, Transparency and Accountability Network
26. Dr. Segundo Romero, Program Director, Ateneo School of Government
27. Mr. Ricardo Reyes, President, Freedom from Debt Coalition
28. Dr. Joseph Anthony Lim, Professor, Economics Department, Ateneo De Manila University
29. Dr. J. Prospero de Vera, Professor, UPNCPAG, Executive Director, Pimentel Institute for Leadership and Governance
30. Mr. Bong Fabe, Freelance journalist
31. Atty. Risa Halagueña, Fellow, Action for Economic Reforms
32. Sr. Cres Lucero, SFIC, Co-Chairperson; Mr. Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
33. Atty. Corazon Valdez Fabros, Lead Convenor, Stop the War Coalition Philippines
34. Ms. Ana Maria R. Nemenzo, National Coordinator; Ms. Mercy Fabros, Advocacy and Campaign Coordinator; Ms. May-i Fabros, Coordinator of Young Women Collective; Ms. Rosheic Sims, Assistant Coordinator of Young Women Collective, WomanHealth Philippines
35. Mr. Rolando Ocampo, Spokesperson, Prudentialife Warriors/Movement for Change and Good Governance

36. Ms. Cielo Magno, Coordinator, Bantay Kita
37. Mr. Red Batario, Executive Director; Ms. G. Sevilla Alvarez, Program Director, Center for Community Journalism and Development
38. Mr. Isagani R. Serrano, President, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
39. Dr. Sylvia Estrada-Claudio, Director, University of the Philippines Center for Women’s Studies.
40. Ms. Jessica Reyes-Cantos, Lead Convenor, Rice Watch and Action Network
41. Ms. Ellene Sana, Executive Director, Center for Migrant Advocacy
42. Mr. Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
43. Mr. Jong Pacanot, Secretary General, Freedom from Debt Coalition – Southern Mindanao
44. Ms. Evita L. Jimenez, Executive Director, Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG)
45. Ms. Andrea Maria Patricia Sarenas, Chairperson, Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE)
46. Fr. Albert E. Alejo, SJ, Ehem Anticorruption Program
47. Mr. Jason Alacapa, Chairperson, University Student Council (UPM USC), UP Manila
48. Ms. Jean Enriquez, Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific
49. Dr. Nymia Pimentel Simbulan, Executive Director, PhilRights
50. Atty. Ray Paolo J. Santiago, Executive Director, Ateneo Human Rights Center
51. Ms. Zenaida S. Mique, Executive Director, Claimants 1081
52. Sr. Nelda L. Balaba, OND, Program Coordinator, Justice and Peace Desk – Social Action Center, Diocese of Marbel
53. Ms. Marjorie Anne Yoro, Suprema, UP Kabataang Pilosopo Tasyo (KaPiTas), UP Diliman
54. Ms. Moses Albiento, Chairperson, Alliance of Student Leaders (ASL), Ateneo de Manila University
55. Mr. Joseph Angelo Gutierrez, Chairperson, Movement of Students for Progressive Leadership in UP (MOVE UP), UP Los Baños
56. Mr. Tristan Daine Zinampan, Chairperson, Linking Everyone Towards Service CDC (LETS CDC), College of Development Communication, UP Los Baños
57. Ms. Mary Ann Fuertes, Executive Director, Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (Davao City)
58. Atty. Arvin A. Jo, Focal Person, The Access Initiative – Philippines
59. Ms. April Lamentillo, Supremo, Sandigan ng mga Iskolar para sa Nagkakaisang CAS (SINAG CAS), College of Arts and Sciences, UP Los Baños
60. Mr. Curt Russel Lopez Delfin, President, Metro Manila Alliance of Communication Students (MACS)
61. Mr. John Mark Salvador, President, Bagong Benilde, De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde
62. Mr. Van Battad, President, UP Sirkulo ng mga Kabataang Artista (SIKAT), UP Diliman
63. Ms. Luisa Lioanag, Bos Tsip-Tsip, UP Bukluran sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino (Buklod-Isip), UP Diliman
64. Ms. Starjoan Villanueva, Executive Director, Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao
65. Mr. Joseph Purugganan, Coordinator, EU-ASEAN FTA Network
66. Ms. Patricza Torio, Tagapangulo, UP Lipunang Pangkasaysayan (LIKAS), UP Diliman

67. Ms. Marian Bahalla, Chairperson, Laban COC Party, College of Communication, Polytechnic University of the Philippines
68. Mr. Arjay Mercado, President, UP Economics Towards Consciousness (ETC), UP Diliman
69. Mr. Joshua Layog, Primer, Katipunan CHE, College of Human Ecology, UP Los Baños
70. Ms. Ema Escanilla, Speaker, UP People-Oriented Leadership in the Interest of Community Awareness (UP POLITICA), UP Diliman
71. Mr. Edward Dayog, President, UP Organization of Human Rights Advocates (OHRA), UP Diliman
72. Mr. JC Tejano, National Chairperson, Bukluran ng mga Progresibong Iskolar – UP System (BUKLURAN – UP SYSTEM)
73. Ms. Ara Tan, President, UP Kalipunan ng mga Mag-aaral ng Sosyolohiya (KMS), UP Diliman
74. Mr. Ace Ligsay, Chairperson, UP Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (UP ALYANSA), UP Diliman
75. Mr. Mickey Eva, President, Coalition for Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW Coalition)
76. Mr. Carlo Brolagda, Chairperson; Mr. Chris Alquizalas, Councilor, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council (CSSPSC), UP Diliman / Convenors, FOI Youth Initiative (FYI)
77. Mr. Joshua Young, Chairperson, Bigkis ng mga Iskolar Para sa Bayan Tungo sa Makabuluhang Pagbabago – UPM (BIGKIS-UPM), UP Manila
78. Mr. Viko Fumar, President, BUKLOD CSSP, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, UP Diliman
79. Julliano Fernando A. Guiang, Councilor, University Student Council, UP Diliman
Convenor, Disclose All Records (DARe) Movement
80. Mr. Deg Daupan, President, Alternatibong Katipunan ng mga Mag-aaral (AKMA), UP Baguio
81. Mr. Walter Tamayo, History Department Representative, AngKAS (CSSP History Department Core Group), UP Diliman
82. Mr. Gio Alejo, President, Sanggunian ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila, Ateneo de Manila University
83. Mr. Jose Valencia, President, KASAPI Kaisahan ng Migranteng Manggagawa sa Gresya
84. Mr. Lejun Dela Cruz, Acting Chairperson, Alab Katipunan
85. Aurora A. Regalado, Managing Trustee, Management and Organizational Development for Empowerment (MODE)
86. Mr. Renato Dela Cruz, President, Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA)
87. Mr. Walter Balane, President, Bukidnon Press Club
88. Ms. Sylvia Paraguya, Chief Executive, National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO)
89. Mr. Pete Pinlac, Chairperson, Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya
90. Mr. Pablo Rosales, Chairperson, Progresibong Alyansa ng mga Mangingisda
91. Mr. Boy Alban, Chairperson, League of Urban Poor for Action
92. Mr. Jun Pascual, Acting Chairperson, Pambansang Katipunan ng Makabayang Magbubukid
93. Ms. Edeliza Hernandez, Executive Director, Medical Action Group
94. Dr. Renato G. Mabunga, Chairperson, Human Rights Defenders – Pilipinas

95. Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Coordinating Committee Member, Faith-based Congress Against Immoral Debts
96. Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB, Co-chairperson, Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines
97. Mr. Acmad Maruhom-Macatimbol, Executive Director, Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
98. Ms. Jennifer Julia Lacaba, President, Animal Concerns and Awareness Club (AC2), University of the Philippines – Visayas Tacloban College
99. Mr. Xander Losaria, Secretary General, SENTRO – La Salle, De La Salle University – Dasmariñas
100. Mr. Wilson Fortaleza, Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay
101. Prof. Flordeliz L. Abanto, Broadcast Journalism Coordinator, St. Scholastica’s College, Manila
102. Prof. Nelson J. Celis, AES (Automated Election System) Watch
103. Prof. Angelina E. Borican, Journalism Professor, College of Communications
Polytechnic University of the Philippines
104. Philippines Communication Society (PCS)

http://pcij.org/blog/

____________________________________


LET’S HEAR it from the youth and students.

In a joint statement, leaders of 68 student councils and youth organizations across the nation urged the members of the House of Representatives to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill before the 15th Congress takes another long recess on Feb. 8, 2013.

“FOI is our issue, too,” said Carlo Brolagda, co-convenor of the FOI Youth Initiative (FYI) and chairperson of the student council of University of the Philippines College of Social Sciences and Philosophy.

“We young people, who will eventually inherit this government, want institutionalized mechanisms for transparency and accountability of public officials and offices,” he said.

“Let our generation be defined not just by the laws passed during our youth, but more so by the actions that we have undertaken to ensure that they are enacted.”

The FOI Youth Initiative (FYI), called on Congress to “cement its reputation as the House of the People that has successfully enacted relevant progressive legislation for the rights and welfare of Filipinos.”

A member of the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition, FYI said lawmakers should keep the momentum for reform laws going. “Failing to pass the FOI Bill would make the House fall short of fully gaining the trust of the people in its winning streak of passing long-awaited laws,” FYI said.

Citing that the Senate has done its part by finally approving the FOI bill on third and final reading last December, Brolagda said, “we believe that it isn’t too much to ask for the House to do the same before the 15th Congress ends and before many of its members go on campaign mode for the elections.”

“Aside from possible problems in House members’ attendance, we also have to deal with legislators who are adamant in having an anti-press freedom Right of Reply provision in the bill,” Brolagda said. “Some are misled into thinking that the FOI Law will only cater to the media. They are completely mistaken because this measure will benefit all citizens.”

Meanwhile, FYI co-convenor Chris Alquizalas, councilor of the UP College of Social Science and Philosophy student council, called on his fellow young leaders to help in lobbying for the bill by engaging their Representatives in Congress.

“We have to make them realize that FOI is our issue, too. We young people, who will eventually inherit this government, want institutionalized mechanisms for transparency and accountability of public officials and offices,” said Alquizalas.

“Let our generation be defined not just by the laws passed during our youth, but more so by the actions that we have undertaken to ensure that they are enacted.”

The FYI said it supports the call of the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition for President Aquino and the House leadership to certify the FOI Bill as urgent. The group promised to be watchful of the proceedings in the House as it winds down towards adjournment before the 2013 elections.

The FOI Youth Initiative is composed of the following student councils and youth organizations:

• College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council (CSSPSC), University of the Philippines – Diliman
• BUKLOD CSSP, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines – Diliman
• Movement of Students for Progressive Leadership in UP (MOVE UP), University of the Philippines – Los Baños
• UP Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (UP ALYANSA), University of the Philippines – Diliman
• Bukluran ng mga Progresibong Iskolar – UP System (BUKLURAN – UP SYSTEM), University of the Philippines System
• Linking Everyone Towards Service CDC (LETS CDC), College of Development Communication, University of the Philippines – Los Baños
• Katipunan CHE, College of Human Ecology, University of the Philippines – Los Baños
• Sandigan ng mga Iskolar para sa Nagkakaisang CAS (SINAG CAS), College of Arts and Sciences, University of the Philippines – Los Baños
• Alternatibong Katipunan ng mga Mag-aaral (AKMA), University of the Philippines – Baguio
• Bigkis ng mga Iskolar Para sa Bayan Tungo sa Makabuluhang Pagbabago – UPM (BIGKIS-UPM), University of the Philippines – Manila
• UP Organization of Human Rights Advocates (OHRA), University of the Philippines – Diliman
• Coalition for Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW Coalition)
• Bagong Benilde, De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde
• Metro Manila Alliance of Communication Students (MACS)
• Akbayan Youth
• Alliance of Progressive Labor – Youth (APL Youth)
• Laban COC Party, College of Communication, Polytechnic University of the Philippines
• UP Economics Towards Consciousness (ETC), University of the Philippines – Diliman
• Sanggunian ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila, Ateneo de Manila University
• Alliance of Student Leaders (ASL), Ateneo de Manila University
• Law Student Government (LSG), College of Law, University of the Philippines – Diliman
• AngKAS (CSSP History Department Core Group), University of the Philippines – Diliman
• Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP)
• UP Alliance for Responsive Involvement and Student Empowerment (ARISE), College of Engineering, University of the Philippines – Diliman
• Center for Youth Advocacy and Networking (CYAN)
• UP Kalipunan ng mga Mag-aaral ng Sosyolohiya (KMS), University of the Philippines – Diliman
• College of Allied Medical Professions Student Council (CAMPSC), University of the Philippines – Manila
• University Student Council (UPM USC), University of the Philippines – Manila
• UP Kabataang Pilosopo Tasyo (KaPiTas), University of the Philippines – Diliman
• UP Kalipunan para sa Agham Panlipunan at Pilosopiyang Pilipino (UP KAPPP), University of the Philippines – Diliman
• UP Bukluran sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino (Buklod-Isip), University of the Philippines – Diliman
• UP Lipunang Pangkasaysayan (LIKAS), University of the Philippines – Diliman
• College of Education Student Council (CESC), University of the Philippines – Diliman
• Union of Progressive Students (UPS), University of the Philippines – Cebu
• People United to Lead, Obey, and Serve (PULOS), University of the Philippines – Mindanao
• Kabataang Liberal
• UP People-Oriented Leadership in the Interest of Community Awareness (UP POLITICA), University of the Philippines – Diliman
• UP Sirkulo ng mga Kabataang Artista (SIKAT), University of the Philippines – Diliman
• University Student Council (UPD USC), University of the Philippines – Diliman
• Cor Jesu Association of Graduate Students (CJAGS), Cor Jesu College, Digos City, Davao del Sur
• Barkadahang San Joseño, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan
• Youth Against Debt (YAD) Eastern Visayas
• Animal Concerns and Awareness Club (AC2), University of the Philippines – Visayas Tacloban College
• School of Business and Management Student Council (SBMSC), Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan, Cagayan de Oro City
• Children International – Child Sponsorship for Community Development Inc. (CSCDI), Tabaco City, Albay
• REPUBLICA Socio-Political Party (UA&P REPUBLICA), University of Asia and the Pacific
• Partido sang Mainuswagon nga Bumulutho (PMB), University of the Philippines – Visayas, Miagao, Iloilo
• Council of Maritime Leaders (CML), University of Cebu – Maritime Education and Training Center, Cebu City
• UST Political Science Forum (UST-TPSF), University of Santo Tomas – Manila
• College of Communication Student Council (COC-SC), Polytechnic University of the Philippines
• School of Business and Management (SBM) – Business Economics Society (BES), Universidad de Zamboanga, Zamboanga City
• Supreme Student Government – Northern Cebu Colleges, Bogo City, Cebu
• Team Communication (TeamComm), De La Salle University – Manila
• SENTRO – La Salle, De La Salle University – Dasmariñas
• Samahan ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Alternatibong Reporma at Pagbabago (SAMAR Party), University of Eastern Philippines, Northern Samar
• UEP Office of the Student Regent, University of Eastern Philippines, Northern Samar
• STI Student Council, STI College – Southwoods, Carmona, Cavite
• UP Sigma Beta Sorority, University of the Philippines – Diliman
• University Student Government (DLSU USG), De La Salle University – Manila
• Youth Aids Filipinas Alliance (YAFA), University of the Philippines – Visayas Tacloban College
• Vox La Salle Debate Society, De La Salle University – Dasmariñas
• TLF – Sexuality, Health, and Rights Educators (TLF-SHARE) Collective, Inc.
• National Alliance of Liberal Student Formations (NALSF)
• KILOS! – PUP, Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Manila
• Filipino Liberal Youth – PUP, Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Manila
• Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (TAPAT), De La Salle University – Manila
• School of Economics Student Council (SESC), University of the Philippines – Diliman
* Angat Kabataan, Taytay, Rizal

http://pcij.org/blog/

____________________________________________

The teachers’ take: Failure to pass FOI unacceptable

LET’S HEAR IT from our profs:

Freedom of Information is vital to good scholarship and “evidence-based research.”

Freedom of Information is critical to “responsible participation in public life.”

Freedom of Information assures transparency, “our greatest defense against public officials who have diverged from the will of the electorate.”

Freedom of Information enables public servants “who have done right and performed well.”

in a joint statement, professors, deans, and a university president from the nation’s largest and most creditable universities, on Friday added their voices to the popular clamor for the immediate passage of the FOI bill by the 15th Congress.

The professors averred “the arbitrary roadblocks set by public offices (as) barriers to a sincere examination of government operations.”

They raised concern that, “failure to pass the bill in the fifteenth congress sets back the administration’s reform agenda at a crucial time when transparency in governance needs to be institutionalized.”

“It is unacceptable that a progressive piece of legislation is held hostage by politicians with vested interest seeking to incapacitate citizens who aim to hold them accountable,” they wrote.

Important lessons on citizenship and governance, indeed. But will the members of the House of Representatives listen? Will they pass or fail our professors, and do right on the FOI bill?

Here is the professors’ full statement:

Joint statement of academics for FOI
18 January 2013

WE, the undersigned faculty members of various universities, in our individual capacity as scholars and citizens, urge our Representatives in Congress to pass the Freedom of Information bill.

We consider the bill an important piece of legislation to uphold our fundamental right to publicly-held information. As scholars, we view access to data as an integral component in evidence-based research.

Currently, the arbitrary roadblocks set by public offices are barriers to a sincere examination of government operations.

As citizens, access to information is critical to responsible participation in national life.

Transparency is our greatest defense against public officials who have diverged from the will of the electorate. It is also valued highly by public servants who have done right and performed well.

We express concern that failure to pass the bill in the fifteenth congress sets back the administration’s reform agenda at a crucial time when transparency in governance needs to be institutionalized.

It is unacceptable that a progressive piece of legislation is held hostage by politicians with vested interest seeking to incapacitate citizens who aim to hold them accountable.

There is enough time to pass the bill. We press the fifteenth congress to take action and pass the FOI bill now.

Signed:

1. Prof. Carmela Abao, Department of Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University
2. Prof. Flordeliz L. Abanto, Mass Communication Department, St. Scholastica’s College-Manila
3. Prof. Joy Aceron, Ateneo School of Government, Ateneo de Manila University
4. Prof. Arjan P. Aguirre, Department of Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University
5. Dr. Michael Alba, President, Far Eastern University
6. Dr. Fernando Aldaba, Economics Department, Ateneo de Manila University
7. Dr. Aileen S.P. Baviera, Asian Center, UP Diliman
8. Dr. Edsel L. Beja Jr., Economics Department, Ateneo de Manila University
9. Dr. Ma. Luisa De Leon-Bolinao, History Department, UP Diliman
10. Prof. Ma. Teresa Briones, Ateneo School of Government, UP Diliman
11. Dr. Tina S. Clemente, Asian Center, UP Diliman
12. Dr. Lisandro Claudio, Department of Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University
13. Dr. Sylvia Estrada Claudio, Center for Women’s Studies, UP Diliman
14. Dr. Antonio P. Contreras, Department of Political Science, De La Salle University
15. Dr. Nicole Curato, Department of Sociology, UP Diliman
16. Dr. Soledad M. Dalisay, Department of Anthropology, UP Diliman
17. Dr. Buenaventura Dargantes, Institute for Strategic Research and Development Studies, Visayas State University
18. Dr. Clarissa David, College of Mass Communication, UP Diliman
19. Dr. Maria Helen F. Dayo, Gender Centre, UP Los Baños
20. Dr. J. Prospero E. de Vera, National College of Public Administration and Governance, UP Diliman
21. Prof. Yolanda G. Ealdama, College of Social Work and Community Development, UP Diliman
22. Prof. Adonis Elumbre, College of Social Sciences, UP Baguio
23. Prof. Josefa Francisco, Women and Gender Institute, Miriam College
24. Dr. Eduardo T. Gonzalez, Asian Center, UP Diliman
25. Dr. Marita Castro Guevara, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Ateneo de Manila University
26. Dr. Filomin Candaliza-Gutierrez, Department of Sociology, UP Diliman
27. Prof. Ronald D. Holmes, Department of Political Science, De La Salle University
28. Dr. Antonio La Vina, Ateneo School of Government, Ateneo de Manila University
29. Dr. Joseph Anthony Lim, Economics Department, Ateneo de Manila University
30. Dr. Amado M. Mendoza, Jr., Department of Political Science, UP Diliman
31. Dr. Maria Fe Villamejor Mendoza, National College of Public Administration and Governance, UP Diliman
32. Dr. Lilibeth Miralles, Associate Professor and Research Unit Head, Visayas State University
33. Prof. Praksis Miranda, Department of Sociology, UP Diliman
34. Prof. Louie C. Montemar, Department of Political Science, De La Salle University
35. Prof. Emeritus Francisco Nemenzo, Jr., Department of Political Science, UP Diliman
36. Dr. Rene E. Ofreneo, School of Labor and Industrial Relations, UP Diliman
37. Dr. Rosalinda Pineda Ofreneo, College of Social Work and Community Development, UP Diliman
38. Dr. Mary Racelis, Institute of Philippine Culture, Ateneo de Manila University
39. Prof. Sabrina Nikki Ramos, Department of Sociology, UP Diliman
40. Prof. Rene Raymond R. Raneses, Jr., Department of Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University
41. Prof. Ranjit Rye, Department of Political Science, UP Diliman
42. Dr. Neil Martial R. Santillan, Department of History, UP Diliman
43. Dr. Alma Maria O. Salvador, Department of Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University
44. Prof. Teresita Ang See, College of Social Sciences, Ateneo de Manila University
45. Dr. Carolyn I. Sobritchea, Asian Center, UP Diliman
46. Prof. Randy Jay C. Solis, College of Mass Communication, UP Diliman
47. Dr. Eduardo Climaco Tadem, Asian Center, UP Diliman
48. Dr. Teresa Tadem, Department of Political Science, UP Diliman
49. Prof. Efenita M. Taqueban, Department of Anthropology, UP Diliman
50. Prof. Carlos P. Tatel, Jr., Department of Anthropology, UP Diliman
51. Prof. Philip Arnold P. Tuano, Economics Department, Ateneo de Manila University
52. Dr. Victor S Venida, Economics Department, Ateneo de Manila University
53. Prof. Nathalie A. Verceles, Department of Women and Development Studies, UP Diliman

http://pcij.org/blog/

____________________________________________________

Netizens unite: Pass FOI now, curb misuse of people’s money


LET”S HEAR it from Netizens.

In a joint statement on Friday, Netizens writing for various blog networks pledged their support and gigabytes to the growing multi-sectoral clamor for the immediate passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, before the 15th Congress packs up and goes.

Ten senior bloggers who signed the statement that was read at the press conference of the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition called on the members of the House of Representatives to “pass the FOI bill NOW… without delay and distraction.”

The bloggers raised three arguments for the FOI’s immediate passage, notably:

* The bill “breathes life into the constitutional mandate of transparency and accountability… and compels the Government to fulfill a promise that has persistently been broken.”

* The bill “enables the people to be vigilant over the use of public funds,” and upholds “(our) right to guard our taxes — The People’s Money — against theft and wasteful spending.”

* The bill “assures faster, more reliable delivery of basic and essential information for its citizens — guaranteeing access to public documents that affect our lives — whether these affect private lives or properties, or whether these affect public policy.”

The FOI bill must pass, they said, without need for a right-of=reply (RoR) provision “that imposes a chilling effect on responsible citizens otherwise eager to speak truth or facts without the burden of harassment by politicians who wield awesome influence or resources.”

Citing libel laws, self-regulation policies in place in media agencies, and “the Terms of Service of individual social media providers,” the Netizens nixed the inclusion of an RoR clause in the FOI bill.

“The push now for Right of Reply is designed, in great part, to minimize the impact of FOI on the forthcoming elections, even though it is during electoral campaigns when discussion of public matters is most urgent and vital,” the Netizens said.

Here is the full text of the Netizens’ statement:

Statement On the Immediate Passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act
18 January 2013

WE, Netizens of the Philippines, call on the House of Representatives to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill NOW.

First, the FOI breathes life into the constitutional mandate of transparency and accountability of our Government. It compels the Government to fulfill a promise that has persistently been broken.

Second, the FOI Bill enables the people to be vigilant over the use of public funds with further guarantees of transparency and oversight. We have the right to guard our taxes — The People’s Money — against theft and wasteful spending.

Third, the FOI Bill assures faster, more reliable delivery of basic and essential information for its citizens — guaranteeing access to public documents that affect our lives — whether these affect private lives or properties, or whether these affect public policy.

The FOI Bill needs to pass without delay or distraction.

We, the Netizens, further call on the Congress to pass the FOI Bill without a right-of-reply (RoR) rider that is so inconsistent with the Constitution:

a) It imposes a chilling effect on responsible citizens otherwise eager to speak truth or facts without the burden of harassment by politicians who wield awesome influence or resources.

b) There already exist constitutional measures designed to counteract defamatory expression concerning public officials or matters, such as the laws and jurisprudence on libel, the Terms of Service of individual social media providers, or the policies of self-regulatory bodies of press organizations.

c) The push now for Right of Reply is designed, in great part, to minimize the impact of FOI on the forthcoming elections, even though it is during electoral campaigns when discussion of public matters is most urgent and vital.

As such we Netizens, call on the Members of Congress who have pledged to support and pass the FOI Bill to do so NOW.

We Netizens ask the public to join us in urging that the FOI Bill be passed now.

Signed by:

Noemi Lardizabal -Dado (@momblogger), Blog Watch
Cocoy Dayao, (@cocoy), Democracy.Net.PH
Francis Acero, (@francisacero), Democracy.Net.PH
Oliver Reyes (@ageofbrillig), Democracy.Net.Ph
Pierre Tito Galla, (@jesterinexile), Democracy.Net.PH
Cecille Soria,(@ceso), Democracy.Net.PH
Jane Uymatiao (@philippinebeat), Blog Watch
Juned Sonido (@juned),,Democracy.Net.PH , Baratillo Pamphlet
Angelo Louise Lopez (@GeloLopez) , Blog Watch
Oliver Robillo, @blogie, BlogPress.ph

http://pcij.org/blog/

This work is in the public domain
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