Manila Bulletin - FOI law a must – Marcos

1 April 2016

By Mario Casayuran | Manila Bulletin

Manila-BulletinIndependent vice-presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. pressed Congress yesterday to pass the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) as soon as possible.

Speaking to reporters during his Unity Caravan in Pampanga, Marcos said he favors the passage of an FOI law to address the issue on transparency in government. But since there are different versions of the bill, debates should be held to enable lawmakers to come up with a united stand on the provisions of the bill.

“I agree to it in principle but there are many versions in the House of Representatives. We should start debates on it so we can pass a law. Transparency is always better than secrecy,” he said.

The Senate unanimously passed the FOI in March 2014 but it failed to pass in the Lower House.

Citing lack of time and quorum, the House leadership said they would not be able to act on several legislative measures including the FOI, the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the anti-political dynasty bill among others.

Marcos said while the chances of the bill being passed when Congress resumes after the elections are nil, he is hopeful that it may still hurdle the time constraints in the Lower House.

“I am hoping that it will pass because this is an important measure,” he said.

An FOI law would allow active public participation in stamping out corruption in government through easy disclosure of state action.

Presidential candidate Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago earlier hailed the passage of the bill in the Senate since it included her proposed amendments, such as the mandatory disclosure of the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALN) and the monthly income of top government officials as well as the audited financial statements, and budget and expenditure records of all government agencies.

Under the measure, Filipino citizens will have the right to request and be granted access to records or information under government control, with certain exemptions such as national security, law enforcement operations, among others.