FOI bill gets boost from Angara, Villanueva
The proposed Freedom of Information (FOI) that would allow public access to documents and information in all government agencies got a boost from senators, who have taken the Senate floor to push for its passage.
Taking the floor on Wednesday, Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara underscored the importance of the FOI bill to restore public’s trust and confidence in the government.
“Mahalaga po ang pagbabalik ng tiwala sa gobyerno, dahil ito ang magbibigay-daan para tunay na lumahok at tumulong ang taong-bayan sa pamamalakad ng bansa—para maging tunay na “partners of change” ang bawat Pilipino,” Angara, one of the authors of the bill, said.
(It is important to restore the public’s trust in the government, because it would pave the way for the people’s genuine participation and help in running the country—so Filipinos will become real “partners of change.”)
He said many people were not paying taxes probably for fear that the money would just go to other people’s pockets.
But the people would be encouraged to pay their taxes, the senator said, if they would be allowed to check where their money would go.
“Mas magtitiwala po sila na ang perang binibigay nila ay gagastusin para sa ikabubuti ng bansa (They would be more confident that the taxes they pay would be spent for the country’s improvement),” Angara said.
“An open regime of information is a natural check against corruption in how public money is spent; against abuses in procurement processes; or against excesses of officials in how they fulfill their mandates. The more we prevent such occurrences, the more we widen the space for trust to flow back into our public institutions,” he further said.
Another author of the bill, Senator Joel Villanueva, also took the floor to sponsor the measure.
Villanueva said the people can use the FOI bill to access information such as the statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN) of public officials, among others.
“Kung mandatoryo ang paglalabas ng SALN at mga transaksiyon, mas madaling mahabol ang mga tiwaling opisyal hindi lang ng mga imbestigador kundi pati na ng mga interesadong mamamayan (If the release of SALN and transactions would be mandatory, it would be easier to run after the corrupt officials not only by investigators but alos the concerned citizens),” he said in his sponsorship speech.
Villanueva said the bill would pave the way for a “quality and strong FOI law: providing a powerful tool to deter corruption and abuses, improve delivery of public services, attract more investors, create more jobs and opportunities for our people but only when the education and training sector plays its role in integrating the right to information along with the values of democracy and good governance in our school system.”
“Right to information is long overdue. Delay is no longer an option,” he said. RAM
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