Manila, Philippines – At least 93 youth and student organizations have pledged their support for the “people’s version” of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill. (See list here: FYI Partner Organizations)
On Monday, July 1, members of the FOI Youth Initiative (FYI) joined the Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition in filing the “People’s FOI bill” through an indirect initiative — a mechanism in the Constitution that allows any “duly accredited people’s organization” to file a petition in Congress for a law they want passed. This also allows the bill to have precedence over other pending bills in the same committee.
At that time, only 88 youth organizations have given their support for the measure. Rebekka de Jesus of the University of the Philippines Economics Towards Consciousness (UP ETC) said the campaign targets the youth to become more involved in the passage of the FOI bill.
“This is the youth’s issue, too. We plan to increase the number of our organizations in FYI from eighty-eight to a hundred before the President delivers his State of the Nation Address,” de Jesus said.
She also said FYI plans to go one step further — they want to hold a dialogue with President Aquino to convince him to pass a law that is essential in his battle against corruption.
Transparency for all
For Anne Trajano of UP ETC, FOI’s benefits also extends to students.
“Bilang estudyante, sa katayuan ko, mas mapapadali yung research at mas mapapamura yung cost ng pagkuha ng mga information,” Trajano said.
(As a student, research on the different information from the government will be easier and the cost lesser, if the FOI law is in place.)
UP-Alyansa chair JC Tejano said the “People’s FOI Bill” is a proactive measure geared towards stopping corruption and promoting transparency in the government.
“We can have or at least reduce corruption in the government and ensure that ‘yung ating mga pinuno o lider sa ating bayan ay accountable at responsible sa kanilang ginagawa,” Tejano said.
(We can reduce corruption in the government and ensure that our leaders will be accountable and responsible for their actions.)
Under the proposed bill, Filipinos will have access to information under the control of any government agency. It will give access to budgets, contracts and the assets, liabilities and network of public servants.
During the 15th Congress, the bill only hurdled the committee level and failed to reach the plenary.
Although the bill has known advocates in the House — such as Ifugao Rep Teddy Baguilat, Dinagat Islands Rep Kaka Bag-ao, Akbayan Party-list Rep Walden Bello, DIWA Party-list Rep Emmeline Aglipay and CIBAC Representatives Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales and Sherwin Tugna — De Jesus said citizen participation is key to getting the bill passed.
“We want them to know that ordinary citizens can become part of the process of drafting and enacting laws. While we have formidable champions in both Houses of Congress, having a people’s bill in the legislative mill is important because this builds an active citizenry that fights for our right to information,” she said.
FYI targets to have at least 100 partner organizations before the SONA. – with reports from Angela Casauay/Rappler.com