Cebu Citizens-Press Council

Being accountable comes with being free

CCPC pushes for FOI bill approval

September 20th, 2012 · No Comments


Considering that

On Feb. 3, 2012, the Palace submitted to the House of Representatives its version of the Freedom of Information Act of 2012, which it said addresses stakeholders’ desire “to have more transparency and more access to information” but balances the public’s right to know with government’s “right to legitimate secrets”;

Since then, Rep. Erin Tañada in the House and Sen. Gregorio Honasan in the Senate separately filed a consolidated version of FOI of 2012;

In submitting the Palace version, proponents made it clear that the FOI Act of 2012 is an integral component of the Aquino Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Plan of 2010-2016 and it wants “every other administration to work under the same standard of transparency and accountability:”

Since last February, however, there have been mixed signals from President Aquino and from his allies regarding their real intent about the bill but with a common wariness: “pseudo” journalists might use information as additional fodder for their attacks against public officials;

That and other sources of apprehension can be threshed out at the House or Senate committees with the bill authors and representatives of the media;

If the fear about “hawsiao” press could frustrate a right guaranteed by the Constitution and an election promise and a framework of action by the Aquino government, that wouldn’t speak well of the leadership’s resolve to succeed in its goals and the press’s willingness to police its ranks;

And considering further that

The 15th Congress has only three months before yearend, with the 2013 elections to pre-occupy the legislators during the rest of term’s third year;

NOW THEREFORE, in an en banc meeting of members of the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC), it is hereby resolved that the Council:

1. Urgently request leaders and members of the House and the Senate to approve the Freedom of Information Act of 2012 before the 15th Congress closes; and if they cannot, the Council demands that legislators explain to the public why they refuse to do so.

2. Ask the honorable legislators to pass a bill that serves the public’s right to know without prejudicing public interest, as distinguished from the private interest of government officials, and without using the bill as vehicle for the right-to-reply bill, which requires full and separate discussion.

3. Provide copies of this resolution to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Congress and national media organizations that have worked for the passage of the bill.

APPROVED this 20th day of September, 2012, during the celebration of Cebu Press Freedom Week at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

Tags: CCPC Papers and Resolutions

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