Access to Information Network

The Access to Informaton Network is composed of civil society and media organizations and the academe, which have been pushing for the enactment of the Freedom of Information bill since the 14th Congress. Its members include Action for Economic Reforms, Asian Institute of Journalism and Communications, Ateneo Debate Society, Ateneo School of Government, Center for Community Journalism and Development, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, LIBERTAS, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Pagbabago@Pilipinas, Philippine Center for Investigative Jouranlism, and Transparency and Accountability Network.

Position on the Freedom of Information bills sent to Sen. Honasan

14 October 2010

HON. GREGORIO B. HONASAN
Chairman, Committee on Public Information and Mass Media
Philippine Senate

Subject: Position on the Freedom of  Information bills 

Dear Sen. Honasan:

We are members of the Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition, a campaign network of more than 150 organizations from various sectors, including public-interest groups, environmental protection advocates, independent media groups, print and broadcast journalists, farmers organizations and support groups, women’s organizations, private and public sector labor unions, migrant workers, businessmen, lawyers, academics, and student and youth organizations. We have long been advocating for the passage of a Freedom of Information Act, a promise to the Filipino people that the Constitution assured in 1987 yet. 
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Open Letter to P.Noy to include the passage of FOI bill in his priority measures

His Excellency

BENIGNO S. AQUINO III

President of the Philippines

Malacañan Palace
Manila

Thru:

Hon. Paquito Ochoa

Executive Secretary

Hon. Julia Abad

Presidential Chief of Staff

Hon. Edwin Lacierda

Presidential Spokesperson

 

Subject: Appeal for Inclusion of the Passage of the Freedom of Information Act as one of the President’s Priority Measures for the 15th Congress


Dear Mr. President:

We are members of the Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition, a network of organizations and individuals from various sectors that have long been campaigning for the passage of the Freedom of Information Act. We count among our ranks public-interest groups, organizations of print and broadcast journalists, environmental protection advocates, farmers organizations and support groups, women’s organizations, private and public sector labor unions, migrant workers, businessmen, lawyers, academics, student and youth organizations, and concerned individuals. 

 

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LEGACY OR IGNOMINY: WILL SPEAKER NOGRALES AND HIS HOUSE RATIFY THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL?

4 June 2010

When the leaders of the House of Representatives want a measure passed, we have seen them find a way. But when they want a measure aborted, they simply stay away and quibble about the absence of quorum.

For 14 years, the 160 member-organizations of the Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition have waged, separately and together, an advocacy campaign for the passage of the Freedom of Information Act. We have done so in good faith, in the most positive and trustful manner, and with all due respect to the members of Congress who swore to serve the people, by the Constitution and the laws of the land.

Even now, we thank Speaker Prospero Nograles Jr., the legislators who authored and passed the Freedom of Information Act, and all the members of the 14th Congress, for taking the bill to its farthest, an accomplishment that previous Congresses had all failed to achieve.

Today, the Freedom of Information Act hangs on the precipice, and the leaders of the House, on the threshold of either making history or being cast aside to its dustbin.

In the last two weeks, the people have been offered promise after promise to ratify the Fredom of Information Act. 

On February 2, 2010, copies of the Bicameral Conference Committee Report on the FOI scheduled for distribution to the House members suddenly went missing at the session hall

On February 3, the House Floorleader, after moving to defer the calling of the roll, proceeded to secure the House members’ concurrence vote for no less than 15 Senate bills, and one conference committee report. However, the FOI conference committee report was conveniently left out. A congressman who sought a copy of the FOI Act was told by House officials that the instruction from the office of the House Secretary General was to “hold distribution” of the copies that day, the last day before the Congress adjourned for the election campaign season.

On May 24, the House leadership implored proponents of the bill to withdraw their motion to ratify the conference committee report after the Speaker and the Majority and Minority leaders declared their commitment to enroll it on the agenda of the House on May 31.

But on May 31, Speaker Nograles opened the session and the Majority Floorleader moved to suspend session until June 4, for the closing of the 14th Congress. In 10 seconds flat, they opened and closed the session, ignoring motions from proponents of the bill to ratify the FOI Act. The proponents led by Manila Rep. Bienvenido M. Abante Jr., chair of the House committee on public information, had wanted to raise a point of order but the House leaders simply ignored them. In truth, the proponents were muzzled and gagged – the microphones on the floor were turned off.

 

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RATIFY FOI, CANVASS THE VOTES

The Senate and the House of Representatives have agreed to advance the resumption of its session to 24 May 2010, Monday, instead of its original schedule of 31 May.

When the House of Representatives convenes on this day, we, representatives of over 100 organizations and coalitions comprising public-interest groups, environmental protection advocates, independent media groups, print and broadcast journalists, farmers organizations and support groups, women’s organizations, private and public sector labor unions, migrant workers, businessmen, academic institutions, and student and youth organizations, call on Speaker Prospero Nograles and all members of the House of Representatives to perform two historically significant acts in the country’s public life. First, ratify the bicameral conference committee report on the Freedom of Information Act, and second, proceed to adopt the resolution to hold a joint session for the presidential and vice presidential canvass of votes.

The first act will fulfill the long overdue constitutional duty of Congress to provide the law that will secure for the nation the full functioning of our constitutional right to information, and the duty of the state to implement a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.

After the long and arduous legislative process, from the first reading, committee hearings, approval on second and third readings in each chamber, and the reconciliation of the House and Senate version by a bicameral conference committee, the ratification will be the final step needed before the act can be transmitted to President Arroyo for her signature.

There is no reason why the ratification cannot be done on May 24. The Rules of the House of Representatives in fact call for it. Rule X, Section 61 states: “(T)he consideration of conference committee reports shall always be in order, except when the Journal is being read, while the roll is being called, or the House is dividing on any question.”

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