August 17, 2011
NEWS RELEASE from CEGP National Office
Pauline Gidget Estella
National Deputy Secretary General
The exclusion of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill in the list of President Benigno Aquino III’s priority bills only shows that the government is not really intent on promoting transparency and good governance, said campus journalists.
“The FOI bill aims to provide a wider access to information, including that which agencies and even the government have taken great pains to hide. This is why many journalists and the Commission on Audit have been pushing for the passage of the bill,” explained Pauline Gidget Estella, national deputy secretary general of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, the longest-running and widest alliance of college publications in the Asia-Pacific region.
“However, Aquino does not seem to understand the need for an FOI bill, nor the urgency of the matter,” said Estella, explaining that without the Malacanang’s graces, the House Public Information Committee could not fast track the bill.
“The administration said they need more time to study the bill, but they already have decades and decades to draw lessons from. Time and again, agencies have successfully restricted freedom of information by imposing their own guidelines. There is no better time for the passage of the bill than now,” said Estella.
“Freedom of information is vital for the development of a society. If Aquino truly values media freedom and people’s access to information, then the government should think twice,” said Estella.