THE CLOCK is ticking fast, and the Senators are now facing judgment: Are they champions of the people’s right to know?
The Senators have only 23 session days left before they adjourn for the May 2010 elections to pass their version of the Freedom of Information Act, a law that has been promised 22 years ago by the 1987 Constitution.
As well, over the last eight years, a broad coalition of independent media and civil society groups has waged a relentless campaign to pass the law to help combat corruption, enforce government accountability, and empower the people.
FOR SOME 160 families, the two Houses of the Philippine Congress have practically been home for the last century. These families have had two or more members who have served in Congress, and they account for nearly 424 of the 2,407 men and women who have been elected to the national legislature from 1907 to 2004.
IN 2001, 108 congressmen gave P162 million of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) — considered as the “main” pork-barrel allocation — for medical assistance to their constituents through the Department of Health and various government hospitals. The Philippine General Hospital, the country’s biggest state hospital, received P30.8 million.
JUAN Ponce Enrile, a two-term senator, billionaire businessman, ex-congressman, and former defense secretary, is 80 years old. He is the oldest among the 48 contenders vying for 12 Senate seats in May.