MANILA, Philippines - The Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition has urged President Aquino to make a clear and firm endorsement of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill in his upcoming State of the Nation Address on July 23.
The group stressed that a decisive push from Malacañang – similar to what it did in postponing the ARMM elections, impeaching former chief justice Renato Corona, and working on the passage of the sin tax reform bill – will be necessary for the FOI bill to finally be passed.
While Aquino has staked his political capital for transparency on many critical issues, such as the obligation of government officials especially at the highest levels to disclose their financial statements to the public, the coalition said “the fight to transform government is far from over.”
“The question is whether the path toward 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,” the group said in its letter to the President dated July 11.
“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 (straight path), to carry on to succeeding administrations,” it said.
The bill, which seeks to make government records more accessible to the public, remains pending in the House committee on public information chaired by Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone.