Editorial: Just pass it now-A A +A
Sunday, September 23, 2012
MALACANANG expressed hope that Congress could soon pass first the 2013 budget and second, the Freedom of Information Bill.
Excuse us for being cynical, but we have heard that before, just around this time as well, such that for a long as President Benigno C. Aquino III himself says such in his pronouncements and state of the nation address, we will prefer to believe that we are being fed more hogwash than being assured of a firm commitment.
The expressed “hopes and wishes” from those who have the means to push for its passing through the years will come just around election time, when there is not much time left, but there is a lot of time for gab.
Or shall we say, talking about Freedom of Information and claiming to be very concerned about its passage comes around before and after elections such that the FOI can be regarded as a forever unfulfilled election promise. Vote for us and we will act on it.
The trend started with the filing of then Rep. Oscar Orbos in 1992, the first attempt since the 1986 Philippine Constitution guaranteed such but required an enabling law.
Since then, it has been promises of passing a Freedom of Information Law as well as grandstanding on the importance of FOI to good governance, followed by a flurry of bills from both Senate and Congress, and then silence for the two years that follows, until election approaches again and promises are made.
How elected officials hee and haw to stretch the time until there’s no time left to act on anything was most apparent in the last months of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s reign, where no less that Speaker Prospero C. Nograles drummed up the importance of passing an FOI. This was when the FOI Bill neared fruition – even reaching the bicameral committee.
How everything turned out, including the shouts of dismay that rang through the hall of Congress as all proceedings were ended along with the end of that House of Representatives’ term, when microphones were turned off even as pro-FOI congressmen were still trying to make a motion to be recognized. Dramatic, infuriating.
Election time, erstwhile candidate Aquino promised to make FOI a priority bill; it being a very hot topic against the Arroyo administration.
But soon after he was sworn in, Aquino never mentioned FOI in any of his three Sonas, nor were these included in the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac).
With the filing of candidacy soon upon us, Malacanang is again saying that Aquino hopes that the FOI will be passed soon. Really, now. After three Sonas, he is suddenly interested to have it passed and expects us to believe him when he has not prodded nor urged the Congress when there was still time.
For us who have heard this before, we only wait in judgment to see if this time somebody is telling the truth and is not just taking us for a ride. May we all use this as a test by which we will judge who deserves to be in government come May 2013.
Daang Matuwid, he says. And yet a very important component of a “daang matuwid”, transparency to the public, has been repressed until just recently, when election is all ready fast approaching.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 24, 2012.