Filipinos who joined the 14th International Anti-Corruption Conference issued the following statement which mainly challenges President Noynoy Aquino to work towards the enactment of a Freedom of Information Law for the Philippines:
A STATEMENT OF CITIZENS OF THE PHILIPPINES
14TH INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION CONFERENCE
We, citizens of the Philippines participating and attending the 14th International Anti-Corruption Conference on Nov. 10-13, 2010 in Bangkok, Thailand, hereby state the following:
We call on the Philippine government, a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, to join the majority of nations that already enjoy a Freedom of Information Law. Such a law would make it a requirement for government officials and agencies to be open, transparent and honest to the public. This important right is now enjoyed by a growing number of people across the world who could now make their leaders and governments more accountable than ever before.
Filipinos should be able to join citizens of other countries who could now ask their town and city mayors, provincial governors and national officials for information on how taxpayer money is spent and details of government transactions, among many other information citizens need to know – by right – in order to make their government less corrupt and more efficient in serving especially the poor and the marginalized.
The administration of President Benigno Aquino III would have known this more clearly from its counterparts and from citizens’ organizations present here had Manila sent an official delegation to the conference. Unfortunately, neither did the Aquino administration send an official delegation nor prepared and presented an official country report to inform Filipinos and the world.
President Aquino has sufficient numbers of partymates and coalition partners in both houses of Congress to make the Freedom of Information Law a reality. Aware that this was part of his anti-corruption pledges in his presidential campaign, we strongly urge the President to immediately include it in his administration’s legislative priorities and send an equally strong message to Congress that he intends to sign it into law before the end of his first year in office.
We also call on the Commission on Elections to release the source code of the automated election system (AES) in accordance with the historic ruling of the Supreme Court. We have a right to know whether the computerized poll system is resistant to various forms of fraud and error that may compromise the will of voters.
The passage of a Freedom of Information Law and the release of the source code of the AES are essential steps in curbing graft and corruption, in prosecuting outstanding and future cases against corrupt officials, and in cleaning up our government.
We make this statement drawing inspiration from the brave work of citizens’ organizations, from the good service of those in government, and in honor of journalists and advocates who have been persecuted or have perished in our pursuit of good governance.
Signed on November 13, 2010 at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, Bangkok, Thailand.
• Bobby Tuazon, CenPEG
• Charlie Saceda, freelance journalist
• Eric Gutierrez, Christian Aid
• Evita L. Jimenez, CenPEG
• Grizelda Mayo-Anda, assistant executive director, Environmental Legal Assistance Center
• Jose Alim Nabong, CenPEG
• Joseph Mansilla, GYAC-N and journalist
• Leilene Gallardo, indigenous person, Ibaloi
• Marlon Cornelio, GYAC-N
• Prospero E. De Vera, PhD, executive director, UP Center for Policy and Executive Development
• Ramon M. Martinez, CenPEG
• Roberto Soriano
• Tonyo Cruz, blogger and freelance journalist
• Venancio Cueno, president, National Community-Based Forest Management People’s Organization
• Vincent Lazatin, Transparency and Accountability Network