MANILA, Jan. 21, 2013— What are you afraid of?
Catholic bishops raised the question to President Benigno Aquino III as they demanded the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.
The Church’s social action arm criticized Aquino’s seeming apathy towards the bill, which seeks to promote transparency and fight corruption in the government.
The CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (Nassa) said that if Malacañang and its allies in Congress are not doing anything wrong, the FOI is definitely not something to be afraid of.
“This is so surprising since he espouses good governance and transparency. Is he serious in his ‘daang matuwid’, or is it just another slogan?” said Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Nassa national director.
“What is he afraid of? That the people may know what [the] government is doing?” he said as Congress only has remaining eight remaining session days before it adjourns for the long election break.
Pabillo emphasized that Aquino’s commitment to combat graft and corruption in the government will remain questionable, sans action on the FOI bill.
“This assertion would indeed lack credibility if the FOI Act will remain a pipe dream for us Filipinos,” he said.
The prelate reiterated that the passage and enforcement of FOI would be a great service to the Filipinos, especially the poor.
With a new tool of information, he said that the FOI will promote social justice by giving the opportunity for “social auditing” towards the pursuit of the common good.
“Without access to information, the people are kept in the dark. They remain unaware of the projects and contracts the national and local governments make for them,” said Pabillo.
“Unfamiliarity and ignorance of government processes, contracts, activities and services, together with lack of formal education cause deprivation of rights and poverty,” he added. (CBCPNews)