October 1, 2011 · Posted in: General
President Benigno S. Aquino III virtually shot down hopes for the immediate passage of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) on Thursday night, saying he was not ready to support any of the existing versions of the bill because of fears that the measure would be abused.
In a report posted on the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s online portal Inquirer.net, the President was quoted as telling a gathering of Southeast Asian business leaders that there was a danger that information released by the government under the proposed measure would be misused.
“A freedom of information act sounds so good and noble but at the same time, first of all, you’ll notice that here in this country there’s a tendency of getting information and not really utilizing it for the proper purposes,” the President was quoted by the Inquirer as saying.
In the Inquirer story, the President also expressed fears that opinions based on information released by the government could be made to masquerade as fact. “An opinion commenting on a fact is okay, but an opinion masquerading as a fact does not do anyone any good,” the President was quoted as saying.
Media and civil society groups have expressed concern over the Aquino administration’s refusal to certify the FOI measure as urgent despite promises made by Aquino to support the bill when he was still campaigning for the Presidency last year. One year into the Aquino Presidency, the measure is still wallowing in the House of Representatives because of the refusal of the Palace to endorse the bill to the ruling coalition.
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism is a convenor of the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition that has been pushing for the immediate passage of the bill.
Read the full Inquirer story here.
Curiously, The Philippine Star took a different tack on the same issue in covering the same event.
In a story posted on its online portal, Philstar.com, the President was said to have assured the public of his commitment to the passage of the FOI bill.
The Star said the President merely wanted to make sure that the bill had sufficient safeguards first before it is enacted into law.
Read the Star report here.