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Philippine President Benigno Aquino III did not mention the Freedom of Information bill in his State of the Nation (SONA) address yesterday July 23.
Philippine and international groups, including this website, last week urged Mr Aquino to highlight the FOI bill in his address, and expressed disappointment he did not. The FOI bill was pending in the House of Representatives.
In its letter to the president, the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition which campaigned for the passage of the FOI bill wrote that the Philippine government is… “required to adopt right to information legislation to give effect to its international and constitutional human rights obligations” adding that the passage of the FOI bill is “also a key practical step to address corruption, to enhance democracy and governance, and to foster the greater participation of all Filipinos in the process of national development.”
Global Filipinos Australia chair Lolita Farmer said: “Sad indeed no mention of FOI. The global Filipinos or Filipinos in diaspora criticised SONA for failure to mention FOI, which was a promise made in the election campaign and OFWs in particular.”
Members of a Facebook-based Filipino international forum posted comments also expressing their disappointments.
“A very disappointing day for civil society advocates and media that there was no mention of the FOI bill in yesterday’s SONA. It could have been the signal to “full speed” for Mr Aquino’s good governance and transparency initiatives.
“Very disappointing indeed. I was surprised that he would not have looked at that as one of his tools to ensure good governance.”
Freedom Info, an international advocacy group which has been monitoring trends and developments in freedom of information in various countries, in its news updates quoted the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines as saying that the Freedom of Information bill ‘remains in legislative limbo in a House so firmly in his (President Aquino’s) control’.