[This College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) statement on the Malacañang-favored FOI bill was sent to the Manila Times by email.]
The campus press opposes the passage of the watered-down and Malacañang-backed Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill. Instead of upholding the people’s access to public documents and information, the consolidated FOI Bill spells more restrictions and will hide more government documents from the Filipino people clamoring for transparency in the bureaucracy.
In the consolidated FOI Bill, certain documents such as the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of public officials, citizens wishing to look into the wealth and lifestyle of public servants will have limited or no access. Aside from that, the bill will give too much power to the president on deciding on what documents and information shall be available for the public.
We acknowledge that concerns on national security and tactical military information shall be held in confidentiality but the restrictions stipulated in the consolidated FOI bill worries the campus press as these jeopardizes the democratic right of the people to information and participate in policy-making.
The Filipino people’s long wait for a genuine legislation for freedom of information should not be put in vain. Let us uphold government transparency and a strong and genuine FOI legislation.
MARC LINO J. ABILA
College Editors Guild of the Philippines