Press Release
February 4, 2010


Congress should prioritize the ratification of the bicameral version of the Freedom of Information Act as soon as sessions resume after the May 10 national and local elections, Sen. Mar Roxas said today.

Roxas, co-author of the Senate version of the measure, said lawmakers should "not miss the golden opportunity to provide the magic pill that would end corruption in government."

"Freedom to information will serve as the antidote to the plague of corruption, it would ensure transparency in government transactions. The public has the right to know what is going on behind the walls of Malacañang and other government offices," he said.

He lamented the failure of the House of Representatives due to lack of quorum to ratify the bicameral version of the bill before sessions adjourned Wednesday for a three-month break to pave way for the campaign period for the coming elections.

"So near and yet so far. Nandiyan na eh, halos abot-kamay na natin. Sayang naman, baka naman pwede pa nating ihabol bago tuluyang magsara ang 14th Congress (We were almost there. It was within our reach. It's a pity that it was not ratified. Perhaps it could be done before the 14th Congress adjourns sine die)," he added.

Traditionally, session days after the polls are dedicated to canvassing during presidential elections. However, canvassing this year would be automated, therefore freeing more time for lawmakers to act on pending urgent measures like the Freedom of Information Act, which is simply awaiting a simple ratification process to be completed.

The Senate on Monday ratified the bicameral conference committee version of the law, which seeks to establish a policy of transparency and free information access to the public.

The prospective law mandates all government agencies to make available to the public for scrutiny and reproduction all information pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as government research data used as basis for policy development. It also establishes a "legal presumption in favour of access to information."

Roxas had promised to voluntarily sign a waiver on the Bank Secrecy Act if he becomes Vice-President to allow public scrutiny of his personal finances.

"Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap. Kung lahat ng impormasyon sa gobyerno ay bukas sa publiko, hindi na maitutuloy ng mga magnanakaw sa gobyerno ang maiiitim nilang balak (Ending corruption means ending poverty. If all official information are open to public, then the scallywags in government will think twice before pursuing their dark plans)," Roxas said.

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