CIVIL society organizations and media groups are asking President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to certify as urgent the Freedom of Information bill when he delivers his third State of the Nation Address today.
Advocates of the Freedom on Information (FOI) law argue that the passage of the legislation is an integral part of the administration’s core platform of transparency, anti-corruption and good governance.
“The challenge to President Aquino’s program of daang matuwid is how to institutionalize and make it uniformly observed at all levels of government, so that it becomes irreversible even beyond his term.
“Passing the FOI law now will strongly reinforce public confidence that the president is keeping true to his mandate of change, “said lawyer Nepo Malaluan, co-convenor of the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition in a statement.
The FOI which is principally authored by Quezon province representative and House majority floor leader Erin Tañada has been stuck in the committee level. Tañada is working for a vote on the legislative measure in the committee level in August this year.
“Only two contentious issues remain: first, whether the committee will agree to insert a right of reply provision in the FOI law as proposed by Rep. Rodolfo Antonino, or settle for an alternative provision to safeguard against fears of citizens and media abuse of FOI; and second, whether the committee will agree to extend the coverage of the FOI law to the private sector as proposed by Rep. Pedro Romualdo,” Tañada said in a forum in Davao City last week.
Malaluan said certification of the FOI as an urgent legislative measure is crucial as it constitutes “his marching orders to transform our government.”/BenCyrus G. Ellorin