PRESIDENT Noynoy Aquino didn't use the word "transparency." It wasn't in the handful of English sentences in his Tagalog inaugural speech.

He talked though about trying ("sisikapin") to enforce the right of the citizen to public information under the Constitution.

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President Noy must assume that transparency comes with efforts to remove corruption and eliminate poverty, his battlecry.

Graft is usually, yet not necessarily, transacted in closed and dark spaces. Rep. Tomas Osmeña was literal about openness. He thought that holding office as Cebu City mayor in a room walled with glass, which allowed people to see what he was doing, was transparency.

That, of course, isn't real transparency. Transparency is providing records of public deals and telling all about decisions that use public resources or affect public interest. Transparency isn't hiding or hedging when official act is questioned.

Letting citizens see their mayor in office, watching him the way they ogle aquarium fish, is at best symbolic. Seriously, how much information does that give the public?

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Mayor Mike Rama is using a conventionally enclosed office, which may enable him to get some work done. Maybe Mike understands better what transparency is about.

President Noy wasn't more explicit about transparency but he kept repeating the need for good government: "wastong pamamahala," "mabuting pamamalakad sa pamahalaan."

When he faces Congress soon, maybe he'll slow down on sloganeering and tell the nation more specifically how he'll keep his tons of promises and still be transparent.

(paseares@yahoo.com)