ABS-CBN News

PNoy won't use powers of persuasion for FOI bill

Posted at | Updated as of 03/12/14 3:09 AM

MANILA – President Benigno Aquino III won’t use his persuasion powers over allies at the House of Representatives to pass the freedom of information (FOI) bill – the same powers he used in pushing for measures on reproductive health, sin tax, and the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Malacanang honors the separation of powers between the executive and legislative.

He insisted Aquino did not coerce his allies into doing his bidding during previous instances. “Noong nakaraang talakayan hinggil sa Reproductive Health Bill, hindi naman siya gumamit ng pamimilit o pamumuwersa, at kahit mga kaalyado ng administrasyon ay hinayaang bumoto ayon sa kanilang konsensya at ayon sa panawagan ng kanilang mga constituent. Kaya ganyan din ang pananaw ng ating Pangulo hinggil dito.”

It is best if the public imposes pressure on lawmakers to pass the FOI bill, he said.

He believes the Senate’s version, passed yesterday, already considered the administration’s inputs.

Nonetheless, Coloma said the administration doesn’t need an FOI bill to be transparent.

“Nais ko ring ipunto na even without the enactment by Congress of an FOI Bill, isina-kongkreto na ng ating pamahalaan ang maraming prinsipyo na nagtataguyad sa openness, transparency, full disclosure, at accountability of public officials,” he said.

He said Aquino has always delivered on his promise to ensure transparency in government.

“Yung clamor kasi, ‘di ba, noong kampanya ay maging hayag, maging bukas, maging transparent ang pamahalaan. Kaya nga’t sa aking salaysay, napakadami ng kongkretong manipestasyon, napakarami ng kongkretong inisyatiba na pinatutupad—‘yung actuality. Nararamdaman na ng mga mamamayan ‘yung benipisyo nitong mga patakaran ng pamahalaan. Ang concern na lang ay puwede bang mapagpatuloy ito ng beyond the term.”

Asked if Aquino is merely waiting for the end of his term to pass an FOI law so that it cannot be used against him, Coloma said: “Ay hindi po, wala pong ganoong kaisipan.”

He also dismissed notions that local officials are the ones lobbying against the bill. “Hindi nila maaaring maiwasan o hindi sila maaaring sumuway sa kagustuhan ng mga mamamayan kung mapaparamdam sa kanila yung tindi ng public pressure o public sentiment.”