FROM SAUDI ARABIA to Santolan in Quezon City, from Australia to Angono in Rizal, close to 500 people have already signed up in support of the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill just two hours after the online signature campaign was launched in Quezon City.
The online campaign is being done through www. change.org, with all Filipinos being encouraged to sign the online petition to push President Benigno S. Aquino III and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte to pass the long-delayed FOI bill. Advocates of the bill will try to present the compiled campaign signatures to the President and the House Speaker a week before the President gives his State of the Nation Address in July this year.
The bill, when passed, would give citizens the right to demand information of public interest from almost any government agency. For decades, government agencies have adopted a restrictive information access policy. The measure would shift the burden such that citizens no longer need to justify their demand for information; instead, government officials must justify the need to keep certain types of information confidential.
Almost 500 people have already signed up in favor of the FOI, with little gems of wisdom left by the signatories who come from all parts of the globe.
For example, Jun Magpusao signed up from Dammam, Saudi Arabia. “Kailangan ito para mapuksa ang graft and corruption sa pamahalaan,” Magpusao said in his comment. (This is needed to stop graft and corruption in the government.)
From Australia, Jayson Lamchek wrote: “Walang totoong demokrasya na hindi kumikilala sa karapatan ng mamamayan sa katotohanan.” (No true democracy would fail to recognize the right of the people to the truth.)
From Hong Kong, Jack Chua wrote: “For transparency and ordinary citizens’ access to documents which could reveal the truth on issues that the Filipino politicians tend to hide nowadays.”
From Cotabato City in Mindanao, peace advocate Fr. Eliseo Mercado said: “A very good mechanism against corruption.”
Other signatories from around the country left their mark on the online campaign site as well:
- Paul Ang, from Misamis Oriental: “Ito ay karapatan mo, huwag mong hayaang kunin din ito sa iyo. Makialam ka kasi may alam ka at may karapatan ka.” (This is your right, do not let them take this away from you. Be involved because you are informed, and it is your right.)
- Venus Penaflor, from San Pablo City: “Ang kalayaan sa impormasyon ay isa sa mga karapatan ng Pilipino sangayon sa Konstitusyon ng Pilipinas, ngunit sa maraming paraan, ito ay nasisikil.” (The freedom of information is one of the rights of the Filipino according to the Constitution, but in many ways this is being restricted.)
- Gabriela Victoria Timbancaya, from Puerto Princesa in Palawan: Napakahalaga para sa pagsusuri at pagbabago ng lipunan na alam natin kung anu ano ang dapat baguhin at kung paano natin ito gagawin.” (To be able to change our society, it is important that we know what needs to be changed, and how.)
- Jonathan Domingo, from Kidapawan City in North Cotabato: “Para sa pagbabago ng lipunan sa pamamagitan ng pagsasakapangyarihan ng mamamayan na malaman ang tamang impormasyon, bukas at at makatotohanang pamamahayag at kalayaan sa pagpapahayag.” (For there to be changes in society, the people must be empowered with the right information, and with open and truthful reporting.)
- Caroline Manguiat-Ubalde, from Legazpi City, Albay: “All Filipino citizens like me have the right to information which will enable us to choose rightly and decide for ourselves.”
- Rhema Joy Penaflor, from Bulacan: “Para mas mailahad ang katotohanan sa madla.” (So the truth will be known to the people.)
- Josefina Gutierrez, from Davao City: “When we know the truth, the facts, then we will be able to make a good decision because it is an informed decision.”
- Carlos Primicias from Bacolod City: “We need more transparency in government!”
- Rommel Rutor, from Catbalogan City: “Ito ay upang mabigyan daan ang katotohanan sa lahat ng gawain ng pamahalaan na may kinalaman sa salapi ng taumbayan.” (This would give way to the truth in all government dealings that concern the public money.)
- Henry Earl Manuzon, from Baguio City: “It is our right. Empower the people!”