MANILA, Philippines -- Journalists have urged lawmakers to prioritize the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill in the last nine session days before they go on break in preparation for their respective campaigns.
Journalists said the FOI bill will define the fate of the lawmakers in the coming May polls.
“Before they start courting voters yet again, the first order of business is this: Political parties and candidates must deliver on a promise they’ve made in elections past by taking and making known their party and personal stand on the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill,” they said.
The journalists are members of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, Philippine Press Institute, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.
The passage of the bill has not seen the light of day since its inception in the 11th Congress. Despite promises from government officials, led by President Benigno Aquino III, who made it one of his campaign promises in 2010, the FOI bill remains in the backburner.
“Between the pros and the cons in the FOI bill equation, that is where these political parties are: fence-sitters with neither leadership nor clarity of purpose with respect to the constitutionally guaranteed state policies of transparency and accountability that the FOI bill upholds,” they said.
Nonetheless, some lawmakers are believed to be delaying further the passage of the bill.
The journalists said voters must scrutinize carefully the candidates and their stand on the FOI bill in the remaining nine session days.
“How they stand on the FOI bill, and if at all they will take a stand on this all-important reform measure, will give us an idea whether or not they deserve our vote in the coming May elections,” they said.