Letter to P. Noy from Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 22 2010 06:15 PM | Updated as of Jul 24 2010 04:19 AM

20 July 2010

His Excellency
BENIGNO S. AQUINO III
President of the Philippines
Malacañan Palace
Manila

Subject: Appeal for Inclusion of the Passage of the Freedom of Information Act as one of the President’s Priority Measures for the 15th Congress

 Dear Mr. President:

    We are members of the Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition, a network of organizations and individuals from various sectors that have long been campaigning for the passage of the Freedom of Information Act. We count among our ranks public-interest groups, organizations of print and broadcast journalists, environmental protection advocates, farmers organizations and support groups, women’s organizations, private and public sector labor unions, migrant workers, businessmen, lawyers, academics, student and youth organizations, and concerned individuals.

    We join the rest of the country in hopeful anticipation of your first State of the Nation Address. We look to your SONA to clearly spell out for the government sector the policy choices that your administration will implement in order to bring to fruition the governance direction that you set in your inaugural speech.

    In this regard, we respectfully appeal to you to include the 14th Congress Bicameral Conference Committee version of the Freedom of Information Act as one of the priority legislative measures that you will urge, in your SONA, the 15th Congress to pass in order to help you meet your aspirations for the country.

    In the House of Representatives, this version has already been re-filed as House Bill No. 53 by Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III. With your unequivocal support for its immediate passage, there should be no reason for the 15th Congress not to be able to respond promptly and decisively. This version of the draft law had been discussed in public consultation meetings and had gone through the entire legislative process in the 14th Congress, save for the ratification of the bicam report by the House of Representatves. It has taken into consideration the legitimate concerns of government agencies without compromising the integrity of the people’s right to information. The new senators and congressmen will do well not to repeat the full deliberations so they can save valuable time and even more valuable taxpayers’ money.

    We attach herewith a copy of the bicam version of this draft law. As a member of the Senate that ratified it, we have no doubt that you are one with us in recognizing that this bicameral conference committee report is as progressive and as reasonable as a Freedom of Information Act could get. It provides a standard and definite procedure for dealing with requests for information. It clearly defines a narrow list of exceptions, carefully balancing the public interest in broad disclosure with the public interest in keeping certain information secret. It secures for citizens concurrent remedies in cases of denial of access to information. It provides implementing mechanics for the public disclosure of a list of important government transactions, without need of request from anyone. It provides criminal and administrative sanctions for violation of the right to information. Finally, it introduces numerous mechanisms for the active promotion of openness in government. All these directly address the operational gaps that have made the Constitutional right to information and the state policy of full disclosure of government transactions involving public interest extremely difficult to enforce in practice.
   
    Even as we await the immediate passage of the Freedom of Information Act, we also hope your administration will observe active disclosure policies in its decisions and transactions, notably appointments, contracts, executive agreements, borrowing, and spending. As advocates, we are ready to sit in consultation with officials of your administration to humbly share our thoughts and perspectives on how we can contribute to putting this policy into effect.
   
    As citizens, we do not intend to be mere beneficiaries of reform; we are determined to take active participation in the reform process. But we need an enabling legal environment to be able to effectively do so.

    We dream of an empowered and vigilant citizenry that will make full and responsible use of the right to information, to secure what is rightfully ours in terms of government services, to exact accountability from government officials in the use of public funds and the exercise of governmental powers, and to facilitate the effective exercise of other rights of citizenship such as participation in policy-making.
   
    Mr. President, we look to your leadership to empower us to realize our collective dream. We need the Freedom of Information Act now.


Very truly yours,

Right to Know. Right Now!     
               Coalition

 

SIGNATORIES:

1.    Bishop Broderick Pabillo
Auxillary Bishop, Manila; National Director of  
CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action  Justice&Peace
(NASSA-JP)
2.    Atty. Wigberto Tañada        Senator, 1987-1995
3.    Bishop  Benny M. Abante, Jr.    
BIBLEMODE International; Chairman, Committee on                        
Public Information, 14th Congress
4.    Mr. Emmanuel Joel Villanueva   
Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC)
5.    Dr. Florangel Rosario - Braid   
Member, 1986 Constitutional Commission and  Chair,                        
Communication, UNESCO National Commission of the                       
 Philippines
6.    Mr. Vincent T. Lazatin       
Transparency and Accountability Network
7.    Ms. Malou Mangahas       
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
8.    Ms. Adelina Alvarez       
Center for Community Journalism and Development
       Mr. Red Batario
9.    Atty. Roberto Cadiz       
LIBERTAS
10.    Prof. Luis Teodoro       
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
11.    Ms. Jenina Joy Chavez       
Focus on the Global South – Philippines Programme
12.    Mr. Ramon R. Del Rosario Jr.   
Makati Business Club
13.    Mr. Sonny Fernandez       
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
    Mr. Nestor Burgos        
    Ms. Rowena Paraan       
14.    Mr. Joshua Mata           
Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)   
15.    Ms. Yuen Abana           
Partido ng Manggagawa
16.    Ms. Precy Bellomes        
MAKABAYAN
17.    Mr. Teody Navea           
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
    Mr. Gem de Guzman
18.    Atty. Byron Bocar           
Akbayan
 

19.    Ms. Judy Pasimio           
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center - Kasama sa                    
Kalikasan
20.    Ms. Starjoan Villanueva       
Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (AFRIM)
21.    Dean Antonio La Viña       
Ateneo School of Government (ASoG)
22.    Ms. Annie Geron           
Public Services Labor Independent Confederation                         (PSLINK)
23.    Mr. Sixto Donato Macasaet   
CODE-NGO
24.    Mr. Isagani Serrano       
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
25.    Mr. Joseph Purugganan       
EU-ASEAN FTA Campaign Network-Philippines; Stop                        
the New Round Coalition
26.    Ms. Teresita Ang See       
Citizens Action Against Crime             
27.    Dr. Sixto K. Roxas       
Maximo T. Kalaw Institute for Sustainable                            
Development
28.    Mr. Al Alegre           
Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA)
29.    Prof. Leonor M. Briones       
Social Watch Philippines
30.    Dr. Rene Ofreneo           
Center for Labor Justice
31.    Dr. J. Prospero De Vera III   
National College of Public Administration and                            
Governance
32.    Atty. Tanya Lat           
IDEALS
33.    Mr. Raul Socrates Banzuela   
PAKISAMA
34.    Chester Amparo            
Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD)
35.    Mr. Pete Pinlac            
Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (MAKABAYAN)
36.    Mr. Ramon Tuazon       
Philippines Communication Society
37.    Ms. Jelen Paclarin        
Women's Legal and Human Rights Bureau
38.    Ms. Ana Maria R. Nemenzo   
WomanHealth Philippines
    Ms. Mercedes Fabros       
39.    Mr. Jun S. Aguilar           
 Filipino Migrant Workers
40.    Mr. Pablo Rosales       
Progresibong Alyansa ng mga Mangingisda                            
(PANGISDA); Pambansang Katipunan ng Makabayang                        
Magbubukid (PKMM)
41.    Mr. Crispino Aguelo       
Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka                        
(PAKISAMA)
42.    Ms. Karen Tañada       
Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute
43.    Atty. Eirene Jhone E. Aguila   
Team RP; Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance                        
and Ethical Leadership
44.    Prof. Gigi Francisco       
Development Alternatives for Women in the New Era                        
(DAWN)
45.    Mr. Byron Abadeza        
Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia                        
and the Pacific
46.    Mr. Abby Y. Pato           
Task Force on Food Sovereignty Mindanao
47.    Ms. Carolyn Arguillas       
MindaNews
48.    Mr. Abner Francisco       
DXCA – FM
49.    Mr. Rey Hulog            
Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas
50.    Mr. Jose Pavia            
Philippine Press Institute
51.    Ms. Angelica Simone Mangahas   
Ateneo Debate Society
52.    Mr. Bartholome Guingona       
[email protected]
53.    Atty. Virginia S. Jose       
Citizens' Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC)
54.    Ms. Ellene Sana           
Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA)
55.    Ms. Ester Perez Tagle       
Concerned Citizens Against Pollution (COCAP)
56.    Ms. Luz Malihiran           
Community Organizers Multiversity
57.    Mr. Milo Tanchuling       
Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)
58.    Mr. Jude Esguerra       
Institute for Popular Democracy (IPD)
59.    Mr. Doy Cinco           
Institute for Popular Democracy (IPD)
60.    Mr. Ric Serrano           
La Liga Policy Institute
    Mr. Roland Cabigas
61.    Mr. Rey Rasing           
Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN)
62.    Mr. Raymond Marvic Baguilat   
UP Law Student Government
63.    Mr. Ed Mora           
Pambansang Kaisahan ng Magbubukid sa Pilipinas
64.    Prof. Carlos Magtolis, Jr.       
Siliman University – ASPAP
65.    Ms. Evi-Ta Jimenez       
Center for People Empowerment in Governance
66.    Mr. Ben-Hur Sacopla       
Southern Luzon State University ASPAP – Region IV
67.    Dr. Buenaventura B. Dargantes     
Program on Integrated Water Resources    
68.    Mr. Boy Nuera           
Pandayan para sa Sosyalistang Pilipinas (PANDAYAN)
69.    Mr. Roy Calfoforo        
People's Alternative Studies Center for Research and                        
Education in Social Develoment (PASCRES)
70.    Mr. Alain Pascua           
Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan All Filipino                            
Democratic Movement (KAAKBAY)
71.    Mr. Reggie Guillen       
GCAP-Phils
72.    Mr. Horacio T. Cadiz       
The Philippine Network Foundation, Inc (PHNET)
73.    Mr. Joe Valencia            
KASAPI-HELLAS
74.    Mr. Nestor Villanueva        
Akbayan Greece
75.    Ms. Mardi Mapa-Suplido       
Negros Peace Watch
76.    Dr. Jose Reuben Alagaran    
Philippines Communication Society
77.    Ms. Aurora Regalado        
Management Organization for Development and                        
Empowerment
78.    Mr. Ernesto Lim Jr.       
People’s Campaign on Agrarian Reform (AR NOW!)
79.    Mr. Anthony Marzan       
KAISAHAN
80.    Mr. Nonoy Oplas           
Minimal Government Thinkers
81.    Mr. Jesus Vicente Garganera   
Alyansa Tigil Mina
82.    Ms. Luz Cabucos-Fegarido    RSW
83.    Ms. Ma. Lourdes M. Tison       
Paghiliusa sa Paghidaet-Negros (PsPN)
84.    Ms. Trinidad Domingo       
Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan
85.    Mr. Richard Gutierrez        
Ban Toxics
86.    Mr. Harvey Keh                      
Kaya Natin! Movement
87.    Mr. Czarina Sacaguing           
Confederation of Student Government in the                            
Philippines
88.    Dr. Ma. Olivia Domingo       
Center for Leadership, Citizenship and Democracy, UP                        
NCPAG
89.    Dr. Angelo Ramos       
Philippine Community e-Center Network
90.    Ms. Mae Sabio           
Sulong CARPER
91.    Mr. Diosdado Calmada       
PEACE
92.    Ms. Lanie Factor           
Task Force Mapalad
93.    Ms. Maris Dela Cruz - Cardenas   
EmPOWER Consumers
94.    Atty. Elpidio Peria           
Third World Network; Vice Chairman, Social Concerns                        
Committee, IBP South Cotabato – General Santos City
95.    Mr. Angelito R. Mendoza       
Coalition for Health Advocacy and Transparency    
96.    Mr. Omi Royandoyan       
Centro Saka
97.    Ms. Florencia Casanova-Dorotan    
Women’s Action Network for Development
98.    Ms. Violeta Corral           
Aksyon para sa Kapayapaan at Katarungan
99.    Ms. Michelle Domocol       
Visayas Climate Action Network
100.    Judge Dolores L. Español (Ret.)    
Transparency International – Philippines
101.    Mr. Roby Alampay       
Southeast Asian Press Alliance
102.    Ms. Maita Gomez           
Bantay Kita
103.    College Editors Guild of the Philippines
104.    Ms. Emy M. Santos        
National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO)
105.    Ms. Tes M. Borgoños       
Manggagawang Kababaihang Mithi ay Paglaya                            
(MAKALAYA)
106.    Ms. Marilyn Fuentes       
National Union of Building and Construction Workers
107.    Atty. Michael Yu           
Integrated Bar of the Philippines- Cebu City Chapter
108.    Dr. Sylvia  Estrada Claudio    
Center for Women’s Studies, University of the                            
Philippines
109.     Mr. Viktor Samuel Fontanilla   
UP ALYANSA
110.    Ms. Anna Luz Lopez       
UP BUKLOD CSSP
111.    Mr. Jeffrey Crisostomo       
AKBAYAN Youth - UP Diliman
112.    Mr. Romeo Cabugnasan       
Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino
113.    Mr. Gus Miclat           
Initiative for International Dialogue
114.    Mr. Antonio Claparols       
Ecological Society of the Philippines
115.    Mr. Javier Claparols       
Ecological Society of the Philippines
116.    Dr. Helen N. Mendoza       
Soljuspax
117.    Dr. Mario Joyo Aguja        
Mindanao State University System Faculty Federation
118.    Ms. Maria Rita Melecio       
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines – Davao
119.    Mr. Juanito Enriquez       
Civil Society Organization Forum for Peace
120.    Ms. Edeliza Hernandez       
Medical Action Group
121.    Ms. Laudica Casana       
Anda Rural Women Workers Alliance for Progress
122.    Ms. Flordeliz Abanto       
Philippine Association of Communication Educators                        
Foundation, Inc. (PACE)
123.    Ms. Victoria M. Segovia       
Partnership for Clean Air
124.    Ms. Grace Chua           
Consumer Rights for Safe Food
125.    Ms. Noemi Tirona           
Network Opposed to GMOs
126.    Ms. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz    Ang Nars
127.    Mr. Manny C. Calonzo        
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
128.    Atty. Solomon Lumba       
Institute for Freedom of Information
129.    Ms. Paula Mae B. Tanquieng    
Ayos na Gamot sa Abot-Kayang Presyo (AGAP)
130.    Ms. Annie M. Sandalo        
Code Foundation, Inc.
131.    Ed Caharian            
Philippine Agency for Community and Family
132.    Fr. Victor "Junvic" Diolata, Jr., SSS    
Association of Major Religious Superiors
    Fr. Jesus Malit, SSS                              
of the Pilippines (AMRSP)
    Sr. Mary John Mannanzan, OSB    
133.    Mr. Narciso Jover Jr.         
Tri-people Concern for Peace, Progress and                            
Development of Mindanao (TRICOM)
134.    Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos   
Phil. Earth Justice Center, Inc.
`    Atty. Dante T. Ramos       
135.    Maria V. Mendoza           
Fair Trade Alliance - Philippines (FairTrade)
136.    Mr. Tirso N. Paglicawan, Jr.          
Kapisanan ng mga Kawani ng Koreo sa Pilipinas
    Mr. Dante Dean M. Barola       
(KKKP); Hukuman ng Mamamayan Movement, Inc.
137.    Mr. Manuel G. Rama              
PhilPost Rank-and-File Employees Association
138.    Ms. Marlene Ramirez        
AsiaDHRRA
139.    Ms. Minerva Gonzales       
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Asia
140.    Mr. Angelito Calderon       
Lakas Mangagawa Labor Center (LMLC)
141.    Ms. Ember Cruz           
Trade Advocates Group
142.    Ms. Mary Joycer Filomeno   
Youth Advocates for Economic Progress (YAEP)
143.    Ms. Eileen Matute           
Coconut Industry Reform Movement (COIR)
144.    Mr. David Diwa           
National Labor Union
145.    Mr. Angel Dimalanta       
Automotive Industry Workers Alliance
146.    Ms. Lia Jasmin Esquillo       
 Interface Development Interventions
147.    Mr. Nazaño Cacayan       
Yamog Foundation
148.    Mr. Frank Meno           
Philippine Metalworkers Alliance (PMA)
149.    Mr. Eleuterio Tuazon       
Philippine Association of Free Labor Unions
150.    Mr. Ronaldo Tuazon       
Workers Welfare Watch – Philippines
151.    Mr. John Gamit           
Christian Life Community of the Philippines
152.    Mr. Manny Arias           
Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Mangagawa sa Pilipinas
153.    Ms. Romina Astrid Lim       
Fisheries Improved for Sustainable Harvest Project
154.    James Auste            
Cancer Warriors Foundation
155.    Mr. Vince Cinches       
Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center Inc.
156.    Ms. Heidi L. Mendoza
157.    Dr. Suzette H. Lazo, MD
158.    Mr. Ronald Adlawan        
Youth for Nationalism and Democracy
159.    Fr. Carmelo O. Diola       
Dilaab Foundation Inc.
160.    Mr. Roberto Versola       
Philippine Greens
    Mr. Riedo Panaligan      
161.    Ms. Jessica Reyes-Cantos   
Rice Watch and Action Network
162.    Ms. Evangeline Crisostomo Escobillo
163.    Atty. Nepomuceno Malaluan   
Action for Economic Reforms (AER)