What they may face-A A +A
Saturday, March 16, 2013
WINNERS in the coming May 13 mid-term elections might as well prepare themselves for a more informed constituency.
Various civic, religious, and student organizations are making sure of it by holding forums to discuss national issues that may guide the electorate in forming their decisions. They do not have to invite poll candidates to tell them who to vote for; they want to decide based on issues, not on personalities.
When they speak of issues, their plate will be full as they have the reproductive health law, the freedom of information bill and initial talk on a divorce bill, among others, as guideposts for their election choices.
One such organization, the Knights of Columbus Metro Cebu Province, held a forum Saturday with the theme “Culture of Life.” The forum called for voters to remember who and what killed the freedom of information bill in the House of Representatives and discussed actions to take after passage of the Reproductive Health Law.
On the freedom of information (FOI) bill, the Senate was able to pass its version last December but the House of Representatives failed to complete its report before it went on extended break for the campaign period.
The Senate passed its People’s Ownership of Government Information or Pogi bill that states the government is to adopt a policy of full public disclosure of transactions involving the public interest, except for information relating to national security and defense that may imperil the country.
The House gave the excuse of wanting a debate on a right-of-reply provision to legally require media to give the subjects of their news reports equal space or airtime to reply. Some House members said they have fallen victim to irresponsible reporting and they would want protection in case of FOI abuses.
But they should know that, as elected officials, their activities, transactions, backgrounds and financial worth are open to scrutiny.
As to the irresponsible reporting, there are mechanisms for grievances through libel laws, codes of ethics, and self-regulation by media.
To complicate matters, in the last House sessions before the break for the campaign period, getting a quorum was difficult. Several members decided to take an early Christmas break even as ordinary citizens were typically busy tying up loose ends before the new year.
The FOI is only one issue to measure intentions and platforms of those seeking Congress positions. Where they stood during FOI deliberations in the 15th Congress and where they will stand when the bill is re-filed in the coming 16th Congress. This and other issues are being used to measure the candidates’ sincerity to serve the public good.
The temptation of money is still there and will remain there for as long as candidates are willing to buy votes and voters are willing to sell their ballots. But there is a glimmer of hope in organizations wanting a more informed selection, and doing something about it. Without need for placards or posters.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 17, 2013.