The Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) has sparked much controversy in the past few weeks. The bill was originally introduced in 2010, but due to lack of quorum, was not passed. Recently, the FOI bill has incited debate between legislators and members of the press regarding whether or not it will infringe on the right and freedom of the press.
Supporters of the FOI bill believe that the legislation will encourage transparency and good political practices, and that until the bill is passed, citizens of the Philippines will remain in the dark regarding how public officials exercise their powers and authority, how they spend public funds, and what contracts and agreements they commit to on their behalf.
Despite this, lawmakers have attempted to place a right of reply that would give them authority over editorial policy, essentially restricting press freedom.
This is regarded as a constitutional promise, or obligation, that officials should have fulfilled years ago.
Now, media organizations countrywide are partaking in a series of actions to persuade Congress to fulfill this broken promise, and are alerting them on the pertinence of the bill.
Congress only has a week left to resolve this issue; once they resume sessions on January 21st their attention will shift to preparing for the May 2013 election campaigns. If the House does not pass the FOI bill in their last nine session days, it will equate to a waste of taxpayers’ money. Not to mention the continuation of a restricted press for citizens of the Philippines.