ON Wednesday members of the “Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition” marched to Mendiola to protest the continued failure of Congress to pass the Freedom of Information bill. The marchers carried a coffin symbolizing the death of the FOI Bill.
The RKRN Coalition said no excuses can hide President Aquino’s and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte’s “failure of leadership” and being “the principal culprits” in frustrating the efforts of pro-people legislators and advocates who have championed the passage of the FOI bill which continues to collect dust in the House of Representatives. The Senate had much earlier passed the bill.
“We have seen the President and the Speaker marshal the administration coalition for measures they want to prioritize. On the FOI Bill, in more than five years of the President’s term and in two terms of the House of Representatives under Speaker Belmonte, we have only heard occasional lip service but not observed their decisive action,” the RKRN Coalition statement said.
The “Road of FOI Practice”
“The passage of the FOI Act is important in order for citizens to be able to fully exercise their constitutional right to information. That the FOI Bill meets its death again, under an administration that claims to be different than its predecessor, is a tragic turn of history that will haunt President Aquino, Speaker Belmonte, and the administration’s Daang Matuwid,” the Coalition further said.
Manila Times readers must support the RKRN coalition. We must all join in the effort to keep the fight for FOI to alive until a good Freedom of Information Act is passed by and gets enacted.
The RKRN coalition vowed to “now take the road of FOI Practice.”
“In the past year, we have been systematizing the coordination and documentation of experience in our information requests. We will scale this up to include administrative and judicial interventions to address the problems that could have been addressed through a comprehensive and progressive legislation. We will seek the assistance of constitutionally mandated independent accountability institutions, such as the Civil Service Commission, the Commission on Audit, and the Ombudsman.”
Let us all actively support the coalition in using “FOI Practice to bring to the surface what it believes is the real cause why politicians have defaulted, copped out, or resisted the passage of the FOI Act all this time.”
It is a good thing that the coalition members are reviewing the 2007 to 2009 Commission on Audit’s special audit of the pork barrel funds (PDAF).
Full disclosure of the PDAF fund disposition
Said the Coalition: “We must remember that the DOJ investigation and cases filed only covered the Napoles NGOs, which comprise just ten or so of the 82 NGOs that served as PDAF implementation conduits with adverse audit findings including questionable NGO existence, dubious lists of beneficiaries, suppliers with questionable documents, and huge amounts of unliquidated funds. In addition there were also adverse findings in the implementation of infrastructure projects as well as in financial assistance and other charges by LGUs identified by legislators under their PDAF allocations, that the DOJ investigation has also not yet touched.”
Indeed, the Coalition and we in the media must ask “the COA and implementing agencies to disclose not just the main COA report but also the underlying paper trail and primary documents to the transactions that COA found anomalous.”
These disclosures will show that many of the legislators who took money illegally–and committed the very same crimes of which Senators Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla have been accused are allies of President Aquino and the House leadership.
That is why the law enforcement machinery of the BS Aquino administration has been practicing selective justice.
And that is also why President Aquino and Speaker Belmonte will never grant the people’s wish for an effective Freedom of Information Act.