FOI: A Bill that Unites

18 January 2013

 

JUST as it happened in the 14th Congress, the Senate of the 15th Congress has delivered yet again and passed on third and final reading the long-awaited Freedom of Information Act. And just as it happened in the 14th Congress, the FOI bill once again teeters on the brink of death in the House of Representatives of the 15th Congress.

The leaders of the House have two choices: Kill the FOI bill by extended inaction, as their counterparts did in the 14th Congress, or act with dispatch and muster the political will to bring to light a law that will empower citizens to participate directly in the drive for good governance and against corruption.

Even without a certification from the President as to the necessity of the FOI bill’s immediate enactment, the House Committee on Rules, through the Majority Leader, is empowered to declare a bill urgent to facilitate its immediate passage. This is a clear option that the House leaders can take to fast-track the bill in the nine session days left from the resumption of session on January 21 to the next adjournment on Feb. 9, 2013.

Rule X, Section 52, of the House Rules reads:

“Urgent Bills and Resolutions. – The Committee on Rules, through the Majority Leader, may declare a bill or resolution urgent and consider it in accordance with a timetable. The timetable, prepared by the Committee on Rules, shall fix the date when the bill or resolution must be reported by the committee concerned, the number of days or hours to be allotted to the consideration of the bill or resolution in plenary session, and the date and hour debate must be concluded and final vote taken.”

The FOI bill is a bill that unites all sectors of Philippine society. The right to information is every citizen’s human right, and the passage of the FOI bill for the effective operationalization of this human right is every citizen’s demand.

As things stand, the FOI bill is just a few steps away from passing into law.  It would be most unfortunate if, by sheer inaction of the House, the citizens will again be denied a legislation that is truly crucial to solidifying and institutionalizing governance reforms. The pending bill in the House, without the right-of-reply rider, is already a balanced bill. It adopts fully Malacañang’s inputs addressing the President’s concerns, and enjoys wide support from stakeholders.

The opportunity costs of not passing the bill are clear. Non-passage means a waste of painstaking efforts, resources, and taxpayers’ money. The FOI bill will have to go through, yet again, the tortuous legislative process in the next Congress.

Yet other than these cost concerns, the death of the FOI bill in the 15th Congress could well be an indictment on how some politicians eschew political reforms, particularly those that may diminish their perks and prerogatives. The death of the FOI bill would be the supreme irony that politicians in the House seeking reelection or election to new positions could offer to voters whom they are now courting with more and newer promises of reforms.

We challenge the members of the House of Representatives who continue to resist the passage of the FOI bill, to cast their personal fears aside and take a stand for FOI. We exhort Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to be a leader, and rally his colleagues to pass the FOI bill now.

 

Signed:

1.     Atty. Nepomuceno Malaluan, Co-Director, Institute for Freedom of Information and Co-Convenor, Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition

2.     Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, DD, Chairman, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA)

3.     Atty. Roan Libarios, President, Integrated Bar of the Philippines

4.     Ms. Malou Mangahas, Executive Director, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

5.     Mr. Peter Angelo V. Perfecto, Executive Director, Makati Business Club

6.     Ms. Annie Geron, General Secretary, Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK)

7.     Prof. Luis Teodoro, Deputy Director, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility

8.     Mr. Josua Mata, Secretary General, Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)

9.     Ms. Yuen Abana, Campaign Coordinator, Partido ng Manggagawa

10.   Ms. Clarissa V. Militante

Coordinator, Focus on the Global South, Philippines Programme

11.  Mr. Jun Aguilar; Mr. Elso Cabangon, Filipino Migrant Workers Group

12.  Mr. Max M. De Mesa, Chairperson, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)

13.  Mr. Ramon R. Tuazon, President; Dr. 
Florangel Rosario-Braid, President Emeritus & Senior Adviser; Ms. Madeline B. Quiamco, Dean

Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication

14.  Atty. Roberto Eugenio Cadiz, Executive Director, Libertás

15.  Mr. Alwyn Alburo, Vice Chairman; Ms. Rowena Paraan, Secretary-General, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

16.  Prof. Leonor M. Briones, Lead Covenor, Social Watch Philippines

17.  Ms. Maxine Tanya Hamada, Executive Director, International Center for Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance (INCITEGov)

18.  Mr. Ariel Sebellino, Executive Director, Philippine Press Institute

19.  Dr. Edna A. Co, Professor, University of the Philippines Diliman

20.  Mr. Norman Cabrera, Secretary General; Mr. John Carlos G. de los Reyes, Candidate for Senator (2013); Mr. Rizalito Y. David, Candidate for Senator (2013) Atty. Marwil Llasos, Candidate for Senator (2013); Mr. Carlos Cabochan,  Candidate for Representative, 2nd District of Caloocan City (2013); Mr. Harry Tambuatco,  Candidate for Representative, Lone district of Muntinlupa city (2013); Mr. Edilberto M. Cuenca,  Candidate for Representative, 1st District of Makati City (2013); Mr. Frank Reyes, Candidate for Representative, Lone District of Mandaluyong City (2013), Ang Kapatiran Party

21.  Atty Eirene Jhone Aguila, FOI and New Politics Advocate

22.  Ms. Joy Aceron, Program Director, Government Watch/ PODER, Ateneo School of Government

23.  Mr. Sixto Donato C. Macasaet, Executive Director, Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO)

24.  Ms. Jenina Joy Chavez, Southeast Asia Monitor for Action

25.  Mr. Vincent Lazatin, Executive Director, Transparency and Accountability Network

26.  Dr. Segundo Romero, Program Director, Ateneo School of Government

27.  Mr. Ricardo Reyes, President, Freedom from Debt Coalition

28.  Dr. Joseph Anthony Lim, Professor, Economics Department, Ateneo De Manila University

29.  Dr. J. Prospero de Vera, Professor, UPNCPAG, Executive Director, Pimentel Institute for Leadership and Governance

30.  Mr. Bong Fabe, Freelance journalist

31.  Atty. Risa Halagueña, Fellow, Action for Economic Reforms

32.  Sr. Cres Lucero, SFIC, Co-Chairperson; Mr. Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines

33.  Atty. Corazon Valdez Fabros, Lead Convenor, Stop the War Coalition Philippines

34.  Ms. Ana Maria R. Nemenzo, National Coordinator; Ms. Mercy Fabros, Advocacy and Campaign Coordinator; Ms. May-i Fabros, Coordinator of Young Women Collective; Ms. Rosheic Sims, Assistant Coordinator of Young Women Collective, WomanHealth Philippines

35.  Mr. Rolando Ocampo, Spokesperson, Prudentialife Warriors/Movement for Change and Good Governance

36.  Ms. Cielo Magno, Coordinator, Bantay Kita

37.  Mr. Red Batario, Executive Director; Ms. G. Sevilla Alvarez, Program Director, Center for Community Journalism and Development

38.  Mr. Isagani R. Serrano, President, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement

39.  Dr. Sylvia Estrada-Claudio, Director, University of the Philippines Center for Women’s Studies

40.  Mr. Jaime Tadeo; Ms. Trinidad Domingo, Save Agrarian Reform Alliance

41.  Ms. Mary Delis Santos, Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan

42.  Mr. Romeo Royandoyan, Centro Saka

43.  Mr. Eduardo Mora, Pambansang Kaisahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Pilipinas

44.  Ms. Jessica Reyes-Cantos, Lead Convenor, Rice Watch and Action Network

45.  Ms. Ellene Sana, Executive Director, Center for Migrant Advocacy

46.  Mr. Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)

47.  Mr. Jong Pacanot, Secretary General, Freedom from Debt Coalition – Southern Mindanao

48.  Ms. Evita L. Jimenez, Executive Director, Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG)

49.  Ms. Andrea Maria Patricia Sarenas, Chairperson, Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE)

50.  Fr. Albert E. Alejo, SJ, Ehem Anticorruption Program

51.  Mr. Jason Alacapa, Chairperson, University Student Council (UPM USC), UP Manila

52.  Ms. Jean Enriquez, Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific

53.  Dr. Nymia Pimentel Simbulan, Executive Director, PhilRights

54.  Atty. Ray Paolo J. Santiago, Executive Director, Ateneo Human Rights Center

55.  Ms. Zenaida S. Mique, Executive Director, Claimants 1081

56.  Sr. Nelda L. Balaba, OND, Program Coordinator, Justice and Peace Desk – Social Action Center, Diocese of Marbel

57.  Ms. Marjorie Anne Yoro, Suprema, UP Kabataang Pilosopo Tasyo (KaPiTas), UP Diliman

58.  Ms. Moses Albiento, Chairperson, Alliance of Student Leaders (ASL), Ateneo de Manila University

59.  Mr. Joseph Angelo Gutierrez, Chairperson, Movement of Students for Progressive Leadership in UP (MOVE UP), UP Los Baños

60.  Mr. Tristan Daine Zinampan, Chairperson, Linking Everyone Towards Service CDC (LETS CDC), College of Development Communication, UP Los Baños

61.  Ms. Mary Ann Fuertes, Executive Director, Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (Davao City)

62.  Atty. Arvin A. Jo, Focal Person, The Access Initiative – Philippines

63.  Ms. April Lamentillo, Supremo, Sandigan ng mga Iskolar para sa Nagkakaisang CAS (SINAG CAS), College of Arts and Sciences, UP Los Baños

64.  Mr. Curt Russel Lopez Delfin, President, Metro Manila Alliance of Communication Students (MACS)

65.  Mr. John Mark Salvador, President, Bagong Benilde, De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde

66.  Mr. Van Battad, President, UP Sirkulo ng mga Kabataang Artista (SIKAT), UP Diliman

67.  Ms. Luisa Lioanag, Bos Tsip-Tsip, UP Bukluran sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino (Buklod-Isip), UP Diliman

68.  Ms. Starjoan Villanueva, Executive Director, Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao

69.  Mr. Joseph Purugganan, Coordinator, EU-ASEAN FTA Network

70.  Ms. Patricza Torio, Tagapangulo, UP Lipunang Pangkasaysayan (LIKAS), UP Diliman

71.  Ms. Marian Bahalla, Chairperson, Laban COC Party, College of Communication, Polytechnic University of the Philippines

72.  Mr. Arjay Mercado, President, UP Economics Towards Consciousness (ETC), UP Diliman

73.  Mr. Joshua Layog, Primer, Katipunan CHE, College of Human Ecology, UP Los Baños

74.  Ms. Ema Escanilla, Speaker, UP People-Oriented Leadership in the Interest of Community Awareness (UP POLITICA), UP Diliman

75.  Mr. Edward Dayog, President, UP Organization of Human Rights Advocates (OHRA), UP Diliman

76.  Mr. JC Tejano, National Chairperson, Bukluran ng mga Progresibong Iskolar – UP System (BUKLURAN – UP SYSTEM)

77.  Ms. Ara Tan, President, UP Kalipunan ng mga Mag-aaral ng Sosyolohiya (KMS), UP Diliman

78.  Mr. Ace Ligsay, Chairperson, UP Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (UP ALYANSA), UP Diliman

79.  Mr. Mickey Eva, President, Coalition for Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW Coalition)

80.  Mr. Carlo Brolagda, Chairperson; Mr. Chris Alquizalas, Councilor, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council (CSSPSC), UP Diliman / Convenors, FOI Youth Initiative (FYI)

81.  Mr. Joshua Young, Chairperson, Bigkis ng mga Iskolar Para sa Bayan Tungo sa Makabuluhang Pagbabago – UPM (BIGKIS-UPM), UP Manila

82.  Mr. Viko Fumar, President, BUKLOD CSSP, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, UP Diliman

83.  Julliano Fernando A. Guiang, Councilor, University Student Council, UP Diliman

Convenor, Disclose All Records (DARe) Movement

84.  Mr. Deg Daupan, President, Alternatibong Katipunan ng mga Mag-aaral (AKMA), UP Baguio

85.  Mr. Walter Tamayo, History Department Representative, AngKAS (CSSP History Department Core Group), UP Diliman

86.  Mr. Gio Alejo, President, Sanggunian ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila, Ateneo de Manila University

87.  Mr. Jose Valencia, President, KASAPI Kaisahan ng Migranteng Manggagawa sa Gresya

88.  Mr. Lejun Dela Cruz, Acting Chairperson, Alab Katipunan

89.  Aurora A. Regalado, Managing Trustee, Management and Organizational Development for Empowerment (MODE)

90.  Mr. Renato Dela Cruz, President, Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA)

91.  Mr. Walter Balane, President, Bukidnon Press Club

92.  Ms. Sylvia Paraguya, Chief Executive, National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO)

93.  Mr. Pete Pinlac, Chairperson, Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya

94.  Mr. Pablo Rosales, Chairperson, Progresibong Alyansa ng mga Mangingisda

95.  Mr. Boy Alban, Chairperson, League of Urban Poor for Action

96.  Mr. Jun Pascual, Acting Chairperson, Pambansang Katipunan ng Makabayang Magbubukid

97.  Ms. Edeliza Hernandez, Executive Director, Medical Action Group

98.  Dr. Renato G. Mabunga, Chairperson, Human Rights Defenders – Pilipinas

99.  Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Coordinating Committee Member, Faith-based Congress Against Immoral Debts

100.        Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB, Co-chairperson, Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines

101.         Mr. Acmad Maruhom-Macatimbol, Executive Director, Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates

102.        Ms. Jennifer Julia Lacaba, President, Animal Concerns and Awareness Club (AC2), University of the Philippines – Visayas Tacloban College

103.        Mr. Xander Losaria, Secretary General, SENTRO – La Salle, De La Salle University – Dasmariñas

104.        Mr. Wilson Fortaleza, Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay

105.        Prof. Flordeliz L. Abanto, Broadcast Journalism Coordinator, St. Scholastica’s College, Manila

106.        Prof. Nelson J. Celis, AES (Automated Election System) Watch

107.        Prof. Angelina E. Borican, Journalism Professor, College of Communications

Polytechnic University of the Philippines

108.        Philippines Communication Society (PCS)

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