MANILA, Philippines – Media groups on Thursday expressed dismay over the non-inclusion of the pending House versions of the freedom of information (FOI) bill in the legislative priorities of the Aquino administration.
The groups said the non-inclusion was “ironic,” considering that the government of President Benigno Aquino III is pursuing an anti-corruption drive.
“We see PNoy's non-prioritization to ratify the FOI bill in both houses of Congress as an irony to his banner program to end corruption in the government. How could the Aquino government ensure good governance if it will continue to frustrate and fail to empower the media and the people to have easy access on government data and transactions?” said Marc Joseph Alejo, national spokesperson of the Burgos Media Center.
Officials and members of the National Press Club (NPC), Burgos Media Center, Alyansa ng Filipinong Mamamahayag (AFIMA), The Philippine Collegian, College Editors Guild of the Philippines-National Capital Region (CEGP-NCR) and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-NCR (Bayan-NCR) convened on Thursday to conduct a forum on press freedom and new media.
The forum, dubbed as “Uncensored," was held at the SOLAIR Auditorium of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
Alejo said in a press statement that passing the FOI bill is key to starting reforms in the country.
“President Aquino must be true to his words and start reforms by passing the House versions of the FOI bill in the soonest possible time. He must not think of toning down provisions of the FOI, rather think on how to further strengthen every Filipino's right to know and be informed on all the affairs of their government,” Alejo added.
He said they see no reason why the FOI bill will be rejected.