FREEDOM of expression (FOE) and freedom of information (FOI) are closely intertwined, fundamental rights of the people, not just in the Philippines but also in all democracies of the world. Like two peas in a pod, these rights are spelled out in the same breath in international human rights laws, which the Philippines has signed [...]
A PERFECT zero.
That’s the score of the so-called “Gods of Padre Faura” – the justices of the Supreme Court – as well as those in the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, and all the judges and personnel of the judiciary. Zero in their disclosure of the full details of their statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth or SALN for the last two decades.
WHAT follows is an account of PCIJ’s correspondences with the Office of the Secretary General and the Records Management Service of the House of Representatives, which as discussed in PCIJ’s story yesterday denied the release of the Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) and personal data sheet (PDS/CV) of the members of the 15th Congress.
The Office of the Secretary General is the repository agency of the SALNs of the members of the House of Representatives as provided in Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) and the Civil Service Commission’s Resolution No. 060231.
Is the President still part of the solution, or is he now part of the problem?
Advocates of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill raised this question after Malacanang again failed to include the FOI bill in its list of priority measures during the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council earlier this week.
In a statement sent out to media organizations, the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition noted with alarm that President Benigno S. Aquino III had raised new concerns over the proposed Freedom of Information Act during the LEDAC meeting in Malacanang. These concerns were apparently added to the list of other reasons that Malacanang had been using to defend its refusal to endorse the bill to Congress.
THE apparent inability of majority of Metro Manila local governments to respond quickly and fully to citizen requests for asset disclosure records of local officials, as well as documents on education, health, public safety and other essential services may well be a reflection of the Aquino administration’s own dithering over a Freedom of Information (FOI) law.
POLITICS and government, business and finance, education and culture. In all these and more, the national capital region, Metro Manila, is supposed to lead the rest of the nation. Here, bureaucrats and politicians thrive, mostly schooled and steeled in the art of governance and advisedly, the liberal ramparts of transparency and accountability.
It seems fair for citizens to expect that in Metro Manila, more than anywhere else in the Philippines, the people’s right to know and to access official information and documents would be respected. But that could well be plain wishful thinking for now.
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.
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.