CO-SPONSORSHIP SPEECH of SENATOR ANTONIO “SONNY” F. TRILLANES IV RE: The People's Freedom of Information Act

CO-SPONSORSHIP SPEECH of SENATOR ANTONIO “SONNY” F. TRILLANES IV RE: THE PEOPLE’S FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT



THE PEOPLE’S FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT

SEN. ANTONIO “SONNY” F. TRILLANES IV

Co-Author and Co-Sponsor - SBN 1733

(21 OCTOBER 2013)

 

 

Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, Ladies & Gentlemen:

 

The constitution is our covenant and contract with our people. The 1987 Philippine Constitution was borne out of our people’s struggle and embodies their collective dreams and aspirations. It enshrines provisions that are intended to empower the people to hold their government accountable – this is the essence of a free and democratic society. Indeed, the intention of the framers of the constitution is enable our people to exercise “people power” without resorting to extra-constitutional means.

 

The right of the people to information in matters of public concern is among the preferred rights embodied in and guaranteed by our Constitution[1].

 

However, the people’s right and power to access information seem to have been crippled due to lack of reasonable remedies to ensure proper disclosure of information on government actions, transactions and decisions even if the same involve public interest.

 

Senate Bill No. 1733 or the People’s Freedom of Information Act is the embodiment of the government’s obligation and commitment to be transparent and accountable to its citizens. Through this measure, we hope to afford our people improved and speedy access to public records relating to matters of public concerns without cost. This proposed piece of legislation hopes to promote a culture of openness and transparency among our public servants and our public institutions.  This is essential and indispensable in curbing the systemic corruption that has been plaguing our government.

 

Although this bill is not a panacea for outright eradication of corruption, this is a relevant measure towards this ultimate end and purpose. Through this piece of legislation, we shall be giving our people the power to review government actions, as well as give them the opportunity to participate better in different levels of decision-making.

 

Mr. President, since my first term, I have been supporting this measure. In fact, during the 15th Congress, I was even the principal author of the FOI bill. In the current Congress, I also filed my version of the FOI bill.  My understanding is that no less than eight (8) of our colleagues have also filed their own versions of this bill.

 

Mr. President, there is a clamor by the people for us to pass the FOI bill.  As Senators of the Republic and the elected representatives of the people, we should listen to the people’s clamor.

 

To paraphrase former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” S. Aquino, Jr: “We are Senators of the people, in the public hire, voicing their bitter plaints as well as their poignant hopes, their pleas as well as their anger.”[2]

 

Indeed, as Senators of the people, it is our duty and obligation to ensure the passage of The People’s Freedom of Information Act.

 

It is in this light that I urge all of our colleagues in this august chamber to ensure the immediate passage of this measure.

 

Thank you, Mr. President.