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Bishop wants transparency bill passed quickly

Legislation would transform state accountability reporter, Manila

January 21, 2013

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Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the social action secretariat of the bishops' conference, today joined calls for the Freedom of Information Bill to be passed immediately in Congress.

The bill, if it becomes law, will force government agencies to disclose information on public interest transactions, documents and records.

The prelate said its passage and the enforcement of its proposed measures will be "a great service to the people."

He said it will empower the poor with a new tool of information that "will promote social justice by giving the opportunity for social auditing towards the pursuit of the common good. We join the different sectors who continue to push for the passage of the FOI Bill."

Under the measure, compulsory disclosures will be made by posting documents on government websites for easy access. These documents must also be made available upon personal request.

Government agencies will be mandated to grant requests for access to information within 15 days after receiving them.

Vital information will be translated into major Filipino languages and made easier to comprehend.

Pabillo said President Benigno Aquino and administration candidates in this year's mid-term elections will lack credibility if the FOI Bill is not passed.

The prelate added that even as the president and his candidates emphasize good governance, accountability and transparency, "this assertion would indeed lack credibility if the FOI Act remains a pipe dream for us Filipinos."

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