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.
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.
A CLEAR, working system – with specific procedures and dedicated staff personnel – triggers quick, correct, and complete action by some government agencies on access to information requests. But the absence of such a system in most other agencies, as well as the lack of fully defined rules and procedures that all agencies must observe in responding to requests, remain barriers to access.
THE PUBLIC expectations are clear and well-founded. Malacañang under President Benigno Simeon Aquino III will uphold transparency in the conduct of its affairs. And perhaps, too, in the disclosure of documents imbued with public interest, not least of them the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) of public officials.