Press Release
December 4, 2012

Co-Sponsorship Speech: Freedom of Information Bill
An Act Fortifying the People's Right of Ownership over

Mr. President,

For years, the Philippine government has been hounded by many controversies, each leaving a dent in the credibility of the bureaucracy. In previous congresses, we had investigated various reports and issues involving government officials alleged of betraying public trust.

The Hello Garci scandal, the Fertilizer Fund scam, the Euro Generals scandal, the NBN-ZTE deal--these are among the controversies in the past decade that have left our citizens doubting the capacity of government to do its mandate of serving the best interest of the people.

While the present administration is undertaking efforts to elevate the citizens' trust and confidence in the government, we must give the people something that they can hold on to.

It is on this note that I express my fervent hope that we will soon witness the approval of this measure that I wish to co-sponsor today, Senate Bill 3208, An Act Fortifying the People's Right of Ownership over Information Held by the People's Government.

Under this proposed measure, we aim to feed our people with information about us, the leaders they elected in office, and the businesses our offices deal with. All government agencies will be mandated to disclose information on public interest transactions, documents or records. The compulsory disclosure shall be done by posting these documents on government websites for easy access, aside from providing these documents upon a person's request. Furthermore, vital information must be translated into major Filipino languages and made easier to comprehend.

However, we acknowledge the fact that there are certain information that must be kept confidential especially that which may compromise the nation's security, jeopardize negotiations or diplomatic relations with other nations, and intrude privacy or endanger the life and safety of an individual. We have covered these exceptions, and if such may cause the denial of access to information, the agency concerned is required to make the appropriate explanation. Mr. President,

We have to remain faithful to the maxim that "a public office is a public trust." Honesty, transparency and accountability must always be upheld to gain back the people's confidence and faith in the bureaucracy.

Given the tremendous import of this measure in securing the trust of the Filipino people in their government, I hope that this august chamber shall pass this in the swiftest possible time.

Thank you.

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