Press Release
July 30, 2015


Sen. Grace Poe made a renewed call to pass a Freedom of Information law as a vital tool for keeping government honest and eliminating corruption.

"The FOI law will enable citizens, for instance, to monitor how the national budget was disbursed, and to track the particulars of each expenditure," the senator told an audience of development professionals on Thursday.

"It will make stealing public funds more difficult and easier to discover," said Poe, main sponsor of the FOI bill in the Senate.

At the Third Good Governance Forum organized by the Development Bank of the Philippines, Poe asserted that the FOI was essential to institutionalizing citizens participation in government decision-making.

"I've advocated for the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill which aims to open to public scrutiny and understanding every piece of documentation the government produces. I want to simplify government, to untangle its complications, by making its workings transparent, accessible, and understandable."

The Senate passed the FOI measure in record time--only eight months since the 16th Congress assumed office in 2013. Poe lauded the transparency of the current administration's budgeting process, while stressing the need for citizens to be involved even after the budget has been passed by Congress.

"This is where an FOI law would be necessary. An FOI law will give ordinary citizens the power of oversight," said Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public information and mass media. The Senator highlighted the progress in recent years in attacking corruption through the filing of cases by the Ombudsman, but added that "we continue to struggle against a pervasive culture of corruption." Poe said corruption's worst effect is on the children who cannot benefit from unfunded social services: "The conservative cost of corruption in just one year could have funded the DepEd's feeding program for 99 years, feeding more than 55 million children!"

She concluded that "any time, citizens must be able to call us out for wasting resources or deviating from the straight path."

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