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HERE’S a story of guts — the lone voice in President Aquino’s Cabinet who has come out openly, strongly, clearly for the passage of the Freedom of Information bill.
Nearly all the rest of them, meanwhile, has chosen to shut up, pay lip-service or feign support the reform measure.
On Friday at an international conference of parliament members avowedly committed to fighting corruption, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima spoke: “The governance philosophy of President Benigno S. Aquino III of tuwid na daan or the “straight path” has harvested gains in our relentless anti-corruption campaign.”
Here’s more: “But it is noted that certain conditions have to be engendered in order for the right to information to be meaningfully practiced. One fundamental requirement is the passage of Freedom of Information laws.”
And more: “Notwithstanding the continued difficulties in making effective FOI legislations, I believe most, if not all the people in this room, agree with me that freedom of information is THE most effective modality to prevent corruption. It’s basic premise is that a well-informed citizenry can and will meaningfully participate in the governance of a country. Indeed, one of the aspirations of institutionalizing the Freedom of Information principle in our country is for our people to enjoy economic and social mobility as anticipated fruits of political maturity.”
De Lima spoke before the conference of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila.
The justice secretary who had served also as chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, stressed that the citizen’s right to information is “recognized globally.”
“For instance,” she said, “the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) clearly recognizes the individual’s two-pronged right to seek AND to impart information.”