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Bishops call for freedom of information

Churchmen and media urge Congress to pass delayed bill

  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • September 21, 2012
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The social action secretariat of the bishops’ conference today joined calls by media organizations for Congress to pass the pending Freedom of Information Bill.

"Our peoples’ right to information ... provides greater opportunity for their participation in good governance," said Bishop Broderick Pabillo, head of the bishops' National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace.

The prelate said it is the constitutional right of every Filipino to be informed of governmental affairs, and lack of access to information systematically leaves many in society open to exploitation and manipulation.

The bill would require all government agencies to provide full disclosure on issues considered in the public interest.

A vote on the bill in the House of Representatives was canceled at the beginning of August, after House leaders said there were certain points that needed to be resolved.

Bishop Pabillo called on President Benigno Aquino to make the bill an immediate priority.

"Unless the president sees the urgent need to pass the FOI bill, his campaign [on honest governance] is only a slogan, and has no firm basis," the bishop said.

Media groups marked the 40th anniversary of the declaration of martial law today by renewing calls for the passage of the bill.

The presidential palace last week said it is up to Congress to act on the proposed measure.

Representative Ben Evardone, chairman of the House committee on public information, said deliberations on the proposed measure will have resumed by November.

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