TODAY, we close our people's campaign for the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill in the 15th Congress. We have, to the extent that our capacities and limited resources permitted, exhausted all avenues that we thought were open to us to get positive, decisive action from the leaders of the House of Representatives and from President Aquino no less.
Yet they turned a deaf ear to our summons for leadership. Instead they caved in to their fears of an informed and empowered people. They gave us the lie to their avowed claims of transparency and good governance.
The campaign committed one big error -- we had thought, in all earnestness, that the passage of the FOI law in the 15th Congress would have the support of Aquino. Three years ago he had promised he would accord the bill top priority. Our sad lesson: Words are to candidates cheap, and Presidents lie, indeed.
Contrary to giving the FOI Bill priority, Aquino hobbled the campaign from the beginning with his variably petty and serious mutating concerns about the FOI Bill. Our reaction was to address these concerns and to engage his Study Group after it was belatedly created.
When finally he endorsed the work of the Study Group in January 2012, at the height of the Corona impeachment, we had thought the tide had changed. We were wrong again. Nothing would be heard from him since in support of the measure, except, ironically a left-field endorsement of the Right of Reply in a November 2012 speech. This no doubt affirmed and emboldened the obstructionist proponents of a patently unconstitutional Right of Reply rider to the FOI Bill at the House of Representatives.