Press Release
September 18, 2015


Sen. Chiz Escudero said a law on the freedom of information (FOI) plays a vital role in the government's drive to eliminate corruption.

And when combined with an iron-fist campaign, it will make a strong foundation to fight corruption, which has plagued many offices in the bureaucracy, he said.

"For a long-time now, we have been hoping for the enactment of the Freedom of Information bill for greater transparency in governance. We will finally see our efforts bear fruit under a Poe administration," said Escudero, also a co-author of the proposed bill.

Escudero, running mate of Sen. Grace Poe in the 2016 presidential election, said he sees the immediate passage of the long-pending FOI bill under the Poe administration.

Poe has been in the forefront to have the FOI bill passed. If it becomes a law, it will provide the public access to government contracts and transactions, which are major sources of corruption.

As a senator, Poe has actively pushed for the passage of the FOI measure, which she believes will increase transparency and exact higher accountability from public officials.

The FOI mandates that information must be published online and published in such a way that it is easily understandable to the average citizen.

With the FOI, graft and corruption would be prevented and also promote better public participation in public affairs, according to Poe.

On the other hand, Escudero also sees the lifting of the Bank Secrecy Law for government officials and employees under a Poe administration.

The veteran lawmaker has filed a bill as early as 2007 that will enable the government to audit the finances of all civil servants, including the President.

Senate Bill No. 16, which he again filed in 2010 and 2013, seeks to compel government officials and employees, except those who serve in an honorary capacity, to submit a written permission or waiver in favor of the Ombudsman to look into all deposits of whatever nature with banks within and outside the country, including investments in government bonds.

"I've always said that public office is a public trust. And government officials and employees should always be open to the scrutiny of the public," Escudero said.

In accepting Poe's offer to become her running mate for the 2016 polls, Escudero on Thursday vowed to put in place an "iron-fist" campaign against corruption and minimize government discretion on the use of public funds.

"Kasabay ng pagpasa ng FOI sa lalong madaling panahon at paggamit ng kamay na bakal laban sa tiwali, ipagtitibay namin ni Sen. Poe ang laban sa katiwalian at korapsyon sa pamamagitan ng pagsasaayos ng bawat pagpapasya sa pamahalaan gamit ang simpleng prinsipyo: discretion always equals corruption," he said.

The veteran lawmaker expressed belief that eliminating discretion will also eliminate corruption.

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