Why the Palace version of FOI bill? | Inquirer News

Why the Palace version of FOI bill?

/ 06:42 AM August 03, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—What for?

This was the question raised by a group of concerned Filipinos working in corporate and alternative media when they learned the Palace was drafting a new version of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.

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President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday assured supporters of the bill that the Palace was already drafting its version after he was criticized for not mentioning the measure in his State of the Nation Address.

The FOI bill will give the public more access to records of government transactions in line with constitutional guarantees of freedom of information. The law also lists some exceptions.

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Supporters of the bill pointed out that the measure was crucial in the administration’s fight against graft and corruption.

The measure is already up for ratification in the House of Representatives.

“We wonder why… there (is) still a need for the Palace to draft its own version of the FOI if (there are versions) already pending in the legislative branch…,” Marc Joseph Alejo, national spokesperson of the Burgos Media Center, said in a statement.

Alejo, also editor in chief of the Trinity Observer, the official publication of the Trinity University of Asia, expressed fears the Palace version would lead to “compromises.” He urged the President to “just push the legislators” to “do their job” rather than enact a version that may lead to “weakened provisions.”

A law that “favors the media and empowers people,” after all, is crucial if the administration is serious in fulfilling its campaign promise to take the “tuwid na daan (the straight path),”

“The ‘tuwid na daan’ will (not be possible) in the absence of the FOI,” Alejo explained.

He said that aside from this, a law that facilitates access of citizens to public records will help ensure transparency in a country earlier dubbed one of the most corrupt in Asia.

“How can… corruption (be eradicated) if restrictions to access (to) data in the government (continue to) exist?” Alejo said.

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TAGS: alternative media, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, Burgos Media Center, Freedom of Information bill
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