The Right to Know Right Now! Network launched on July 19 its “Bantay FOI! Sulong FOI”, with freedom of information (FOI) champion lawmakers from the House of Representatives and Senate as key guests. Chair of the Senate Committee on Information Gregorio “Gringgo” Honasan, Senator Teofisto ”TG” Guingona Jr. and Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tanada were present in the launch to articulate their commitment to the passage of an FOI Act under the current 15th Congress.
“Now more than ever, we need an FOI law to institutionalize transparency as the mandatory norm, rather than a discretionary matter, for all elective and appointive officials, across all branches of government. With an FOI law, we envision an empowered and vigilant citizenry that will make full and responsible use of the right to information to secure government services, exact accountability from government officials in the use of public funds and the exercise of governmental powers, and facilitate the effective exercise of related rights of citizenship such as participation in policy-making and governance,” the R2KRN network said in its manifesto read by Malou Mangahas, Executive Director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).
In his opening remarks, lawyer Nepomuceno Malaluan stressed the still absent public declaration of commitment of President Aquino to an FOI law; the president did not include it in his administration’s priority legislative agenda early this year. Malaluan, of the Institute on Freedom of Information (I-FOI) and national convenor of the network, also told the history of the campaign for FOI law, which has spanned almost a decade and half. The new website of the network was also launched during the event at Annabel’s Restaurant on Tomas Morato. (For more updates please log on to www.ifoi.ph)
Representatives of Partido Manggagawa, Alliance of Progressive Labor, PSLink (Public Sector Link), Focus on the Global South, PCIJ, National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, Libertas, Kaya Natin, Transparency and Accountability Network (TAN) also came to make a show of force as members of the network.