SHE HAD neither bought a lotto ticket nor joined a TV game show. But Marissa felt like she won the jackpot anyway late last year, when her family was chosen as one of the recipients of the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program.
After all, it meant her family would be receiving P800 a month, and while that has since proved inadequate to sustain her brood of four, whatever cash she can lay her hands on is welcome, especially now that her husband, a returnee from suddenly protest-prone Saudi Arabia, has been jobless for the last two months.
THE Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) was purposely created by the 1987 Constitution to depoliticize and to open up to the citizens the screening of nominees and appointments to the judiciary.
To achieve this, Associate Professor Dante B. Gatmaytan of the University of the Philippines College of Law says the JBC should have looked with favor at full transparency – in the conduct of its processes and in the handling of all its records – as both premise and armor of its grave mandate.
MOSTLY old, mostly male, mostly born and bred in imperious Luzon and all schooled in imperial Manila. Two in every three were jurists and bureaucrats in their previous lives, and thus, also mostly creatures of habit and routine. In the last 20 years, while 15 of the 80 nominees were female, only three women were eventually appointed.
This seemingly impregnable enclave of the elite is actually the Philippine Supreme Court, the most majestic of all the country’s courts, the final arbiter of constitutional questions, and “the last bulwark of democracy” in the land.
TIME and getting thrown into the other side of the fence can change one’s perspectives somewhat.
Less than a year ago, Manuel L. Quezon III was a columnist and television analyst. Although he had worked earlier as a consultant for the presidential museum, there was no doubt where his heart lay when it came to the Freedom of Information Act.
WHEN THE 15th Congress opened last June, there seemed to be renewed energy toward passing the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, which had floundered in the legislature’s previous incarnation, just when transparency advocates had thought it was about to be ratified.
In the House of Representatives, Quezon representative Lorenzo ‘Erin’ Tañada III, a staunch FOI advocate and a member of the Liberal Party, convened a technical working group to jumpstart the process. At the other end of the metropolis, the Senate committee on public information, chaired by Senator Gregorio Honasan, held a hearing to discuss the bill.
But the momentum to pass the measure has since fizzled and the Aquino administration’s flip-flop on the bill appears to be the main cause of the lack of legislative activity on it.
DRIFT and confusion. Some pockets of transparency but most everywhere, a predilection for opaqueness and more barriers to access in place. This is the access to information regime that lingers in the Philippines nearly a year after Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III came to power on a “Social Contract with the Filipino People,” which he said would be defined by transparency, accountability, and good governance.
But a seven-month PCIJ audit of how 27 national agencies deal with access to information requests shows spotty proof of Aquino’s recipe for good governance in the processes and practices of these agencies. While a few stand out as exemplars of transparency, the majority remain stuck in the old ways of opaque government, with some even sliding back into darker corners.
A CLEAR, working system – with specific procedures and dedicated staff personnel – triggers quick, correct, and complete action by some government agencies on access to information requests.
But the absence of such a system in most other agencies, as well as the lack of fully defined rules and procedures that all agencies must observe in responding to requests, remain barriers to access.
This afternoon, news spread quickly that controversial Ombudsman Merceditas N. Gutierrez has resigned from her post. The surprise move comes days before the May 9 start of her Senate impeachment trial. Before 212 members of the House of Representativesvoted to impeach her on March 22, 2011, the proceedings to impeach Gutierrez in the legislature had been contentious, and observers expected the Senate trial to be a protracted process. Instead, public attention now moves to the circumstances of her resignation and questions about her replacement.
We have compiled our reports on the Office of the Ombudsman to look back at the tenure of Merceditas Gutierrez.
Anyone who has earned more, acquired more, sold more, and inherited more should have paid the lawful and correct amounts of taxes that the government, by its sovereign right and duty, levies on any number of so-called “tax incidents” or taxable transactions on all citizens.
And anyone – not least of them lawmakers who had sworn to uphold and enforce the laws – who fails to file tax returns, with the correct amounts and within deadline, is certain to send the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on an investigation into exactly what that individual has reported, or not reported.
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