Walang POGI sa SONA

There were a lot of  facts, though many are “in general” or vaguely touched, discussed in the recently concluded State of the Nation Address (SONA). Like the “responsible parenthood” that the President mentioned, but many were said to be “wishful thinking” if they believe it was meant to be a nod to the RH bill.

Quite a number of what was mentioned were merely promises that they would still need to fulfill before Aquino’s presidency ends. I was expecting more of concrete accomplishments that can be easily verifiable for us to check the veracity of his statements.

I am disappointed that many of what the President said were future plans and hopeful fulfillment.

But what I believe to be the most important topic that should have been discussed was the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill.

Discussion on the FOI bill, which is now called the People’s Ownership over Government Information (POGI) under Senate Bill No 3208, is important because it will establish the guiding policy to the public’s access to basic information about the government operations.

For the third time, President Benigno Aquino III did not mention the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill in his annual report despite a campaign promise to support the measure.

Aquino was silent on the bill during his 90-minute Report Sa Boss on Monday, July 23, at the Batasan Pambansa.

The FOI bill seeks to give flesh to the Constitutional provisions recognizing Filipinos’ right to information on matters of public concern, and the state’s duty to disclose this information.

The measure has been languishing in Congress for more than a decade. After assuming office, Aquino has expressed misgivings about the FOI bill, saying it may be misused.

The challenge to pass the bill lies primarily with the House of Representatives because the Senate is already discussing the FOI bill in plenary. But like all legislative measures, the chief executive’s political will is crucial to ensure the passage of the FOI bill.

I think the President knows already our position on this and I think at the end of the day, it is the political will of each and every congressman and woman if they believe in freedom of information and accountability. If they do believe, I think they will find it in their hearts to pass the bill…..But if they do have something to hide, it will undoubtedly take longer if not forever.

It seems our government leaders are still hiding things from us regardless of our right to know what they really are doing behind “closed doors”, which could only mean they have not been thoroughly honest with us, and would want to keep their secrets locked and sealed until the end of their terms, and let the new leaders worry about passing the damn bill.

Like what you said Mr. President, we will never forgive and forget how you have shortchanged the Filipino people by intentionally prohibiting us access to some of  the inner workings of government that FOI would have brought to the public by promoting transparency.

Ilabas na kasi yan para magka-alaman na!

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