ANOTHER POOLED EDITORIAL by the newspaper-members of the Philippine Press Institute has challenged all political parties and candidates in the May 2013 elections to take a firm stand on the immediate passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) in the 15th Congress.
The editorial ran on Monday in the print and online editions of Ang Pahayagang Malaya, BusinessWorld, The Journal, and Manila Standard-Today in Metro Manila, as well as in a number of regional and provincial newspapers.
The full text of the editorial follows:
Take a stand: Don’t cop out on FOI
IT IS the season of elections and all political parties and candidates are wont to spin a slew of promises yet again in their drive for votes.
But before they start courting voters yet again, the first order of business is this: Political parties and candidates must deliver on a promise they’ve made in elections past by taking and making known their party and personal stand on the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.
Over the last 15 years, from the 11th to the 15th Congress, the FOI bill has been stuck in the legislative wringer for lack of clarity and coherence in how lawmakers and their political parties stand on the issue. Even as President Aquino himself as a candidate in May 2010 had promised to push the FOI into law, members of his ruling Liberal Party and its allies in the majority coalition of the Nacionalista Party, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, and the National Unity Party have separately come out as either the most ardent champions or the most strident critics of the FOI bill.
Between the pros and the cons in the FOI bill equation, that is where these political parties are: fence-sitting with neither leadership nor clarity of purpose with respect to the constitutionally guaranteed state policies of transparency and accountability that the FOI bill upholds.
Political will from all the political parties could yet assure the passage of the FOI bill in the remaining nine session days from January 21 to February 8, 2013, or before Congress adjourns for the elections. Calling for a conscience vote on the FOI bill is a clear cop-out by political parties and candidates now aspiring to be elected into office.
All voters must carefully scrutinize how these parties and their candidates for the 2013 elections will stand on FOI in their remaining nine session days. The countdown begins today. How they stand on the FOI bill, and if at all they will take a stand on this all-important reform measure, will give us an idea whether or not they deserve our vote in the coming May elections.