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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.

TRANSPARENCY in government is a cornerstone policy that President Benigno C. Aquino III has promised to uphold. It has been put in doubt because of his perceived reluctance to divulge the report of the commission that investigated the hostage-taking tragedy last August 23 but he could still make good on his pledge by widening public access to government documents, starting with those on the budget.

IT ALL started late night of April 9, 2008 when Christian M. Kalaw was arrested by the police for alleged illegal parking and driving without license in Manila. Two years and four months later, on August 23, 2010 one of those Christian accused of robbery, extortion, grave threats, and physical injuries commandeered a tourist bus and proceeded to hold its occupants hostage.

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