This Letter was sent to the President several days before the SONA, but still there was no mention of the FOI bill…Tsk tsk tsk
12 July 2012
BENIGNO S. AQUINO III
President of the Philippines
Thru: Hon. Manuel L. Quezon III
Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office
Subject: Passage of the Freedom of Information Act
Dear Mr. President:
We are members of the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition, a broad network of organizati ons and individuals from various social sectors and public interest groups that have long been campaigning for the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
We have welcomed your endorsement in January this year of the FOI bill, with amendments to address a number of concerns that you have previously raised. We regard your endorsement as an affirmation of your administration’s commitment to transparency, accountability, and good governance. Indeed, you have staked political capital to stand on the side of transparency on many critical issues, including on the obligation of government officials especially at the highest levels to disclose their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth to the public.
The question is whether the path towards higher norms of governance that you espouse can be institutionalized through a truly transformed culture in public service. It is this challenge that makes the passage of the FOI Act indispensable. It will make transparency the mandatory norm rather than a mere discretion and an unevenly implemented policy for government. It could well serve as the solid foundation for “daang matuwid”, to carry on to succeeding administrations.
Unfortunately, despite your earlier endorsement of an amended FOI bill, its passage remains uncertain. While it is getting a determined push in the Senate, it remains stuck at the House Committee on Public Information. Given the reality that the time available to pass this measure is fast closing on the 15th Congress, a decisive push from you will be necessary for the FOI law to finally pass.
As part of this decisive push, we earnestly appeal for a reiteration and amplification of your support for the immediate passage of the FOI law in your upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA). Such reaffirmation will signal your administration’s political will on FOI, and contribute substantially to motivating the House leadership and the House committee to take action and pave the way for the passage of the Freedom of Information Act before end 2012.
The 2013 elections will in part be a referendum on how your administration, midway in its term, has been keeping to your mandate of change and to your marching orders to transform our government. The fight is not over. We look to your leadership in the passage of the Freedom of Information Act. We await with anticipation the inclusion of FOI in your SONA.
Very truly yours,
Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition