Philippines FOI Supporters Start Petition Campaign

16 May 2014

Signatures are being collected in support of freedom of information legislation in the Philippines.

The drive was kicked off by the Right to Know Right Now! Network and other groups. The campaign may be accessed by logging on to www.change.org/tayonaparasafoi or by clicking here.

The Senate has passed a bill, but a House committee assigned it in late 2013 to a working group that has not reported.

Rep. Teddy Baguilat, a FOI backer, was quoted as saying that many members of Congress have no interest in the FOI bill because there is no noticeable clamor for it in their own districts and that they fear that an FOI law could make them more vulnerable to criticism.

Development Agency Backs FOI

The chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said recently that passage of the FOI Bill would help the country attract more investments.

NEDA Director General and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, in a position paper submitted on March 31 but released by the Committee on Public Information only on May 12, said the US Millennium Challenge Corp.—in a study—noted that transparency and freedom of access to information result in higher investments, according to an article in the Business Mirror.

“If passed, the FOI can be an enabler of economic growth since investors will have access to data, knowledge and perspective on how they can best capitalize on their projects and how government institution operate,” Balisacan said.

Suspicion continues that the Aquino administration is sincere in its stated support for a bill.

This theme was sounded in a recent article in Sunstar.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing May 14, “Our position is this is a bill that needs to be discussed.” He said there are still a number of “concerns coming from the legislators and those concerns need to be addressed.”

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