Click to Watch in HD > Senator Grace Poe on Freedom of Information Bill | Senate Session | October 16, 2016
Watch The Freedom of Information (FOI) bill moved another step closer into being enacted into law on Wednesday after Senator Grace Poe sponsored the committee report on the proposal just after two hearings.
In pushing for the FOI approval anew, Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public information, said ordinary citizens should know how and where the government is spending their taxes on.
“Sa laki ng binabayad nating tax, nararapat lang na itanong ng ating mga kababayan--ni Juan at Maria kung saan napupunta ang nakakaltas sa sahod nila. Magkano ba ang magpagawa ng kalsada? Bakit kada taon parehong kalsada ang laging pinapagawa o binubungkal?” Poe said.
The proposed FOI mandates the president, vice-president, members of the Cabinet, members of Congress, Justices of the Supreme Court, among others, to disclose their statements of accounts, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) in their official websites.
“Kung gustong malaman ng publiko kung bakit kada taon may bagong sasakyan ang isang opisyal ng gobyerno nila o bakit lahat ng kinakasama ng barangay captain nila ay may negosyo kahit na wala talaga silang hanapbuhay para pagkuhanan ng kapital, e di dapat may karapatan tayong suriin ang SALN ng mga opisyales nito kung ito ba ay nakalagda ng tama o hindi,” Poe said.
“Kung gustong malaman ng publiko kung saan napunta ang donasyon para sa mga nasalanata, dapat may karapatan din tayong suriin ang financial documents ng DSWD or kung anong mga ahensya na namamahala sa mga donasyon,” she added.
The proposed FOI law faced deliberate delays and remained in limbo in the legislature for nearly three decades amid lukewarm backing from the Executive branch and their allies in the House of Representatives.
Poe said she is more optimistic about the FOI law being passed after President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order No. 2 implementing the FOI on the executive branches of government.
Poe, however, stressed that the Senate version of the FOI will cover everyone from the executive, legislative, judicial, government-owned and-controlled corporations, and even certain private individuals.
Under the proposal, “every Filipino citizen has a right to and shall, on request, be given access to any information of public concern under the control of a government agency regardless of the physical form or format in which they are contained subject only to the exceptions enumerated in Section 7 of this Act.”
The FOI bill lists 17 exceptions, including information that will compromise national security, defense, law enforcement operations, foreign relations, trade and economic secrets, and the constitutional right to privacy and safety.
Poe hopes that the FOI will “cultivate a culture of transparency and accountability.”
“Lahat ay dapat makilahok. We need to create an environment where ordinary citizens are fearless enough to ask important questions and have the audacity to demand the truth,” she said.
Aside from Poe, senators who also authored the proposed FOI measure are Senators Gringo Honasan, Francis Pangilinan, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Antonio Trillanes IV, JV Ejercito, Loren Legarda, Miguel Zubiri, Sonny Angara, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Joel Villanueva, Risa Hontiveros, and Leila de Lima.
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