In the interest of good journalism and an informed community, the progress of the bill on Freedom of Information in congress is watched and covered by your community paper, especially on these last session days of the 15th Congress.
Last week just when the momentum for a final push for the bill was high, the principal sponsors of the bill withdrew their authorship after Malacaang entered its provisions. One of sponsors said, “It’s no longer Freedom of Information but Freedom of Exemption.”
The consolidated bill HB 6766 listed ten points of exemptions from public access among which include those pertaining to national security or defense, information that refers to the foreign affairs of the Republic of the Philippines, records of minutes during decision-making and policy-formulation, including the opinions and advice given then, are not to be disclosed. Drafts of resolution, order, memorandum or audit reports of any branch of government are also to be exempted from access.
The number and breadth of coverage of the said exemptions would, at a whim, restrict public access to information. Information that would limit the public’s capability to decide intelligently even on matters that has bearing on their day to day lives and perspectives as a community.
The already alarming situation of corruption both in government and in the ranks of the 4th estate remains a big threat to our democracy. These exemptions in an FOI bill is an articulation of politician’s wish to add restrictions over the peoples’ freedom to be informed and an attempt to legitimize violations of the masses’ basic human rights.
It is responsible and but right that the Makabayan bloc of progressive partylist groups in Congress withdraw their authorship from that mangled up copy of an FOI bill as much as it is but right for them to keep up their best to represent the people’s aspiration for a genuine Freedom of Information Bill. # nordis.net