Saturday, July 30, 2016

Albayanos: FOI order shows “serious commitment to transparency, fight vs corruption”
By Connie B. Destura and Mar Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -- Albayanos welcomed the recent signing of an executive order (EO) on the Freedom of Information (FOI) as they said it showed that President Rodrigo Duterte is seriously committed to promote transparency and fight against corruption in government

The directive, which allows the public to ask any vital information about any transaction with various government agencies, including local government units, across the country has “institutionalized transparency and good governance,” said Edgar Alejo, a columnist of the 66-year-old Mayon Times, a pioneering local publication in Albay.

He said the FOI order is a recognition that “finally” allows media’s right to information on issues of public concern.

“To us in the media, we are given access to records and documents related to official acts, policies and decisions which were once hidden from us,” said Alejo, who has been a community journalist from the martial law years to the Post-EDSA 1986 years and now serving as an editorial consultant for several local publications in Bicol.

Marcial Tuanqui, a businessman and a director of the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry commended the FOI order, saying it is a sign of the President’s “serious commitment for transparency and in its fight against corruption.”

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal said the order is “a very good move to show the people of his (Mr. Duterte’s) commitment for transparency in his government.”

Jesus Calisin, a former vice governor of Albay and a broadcast anchorman, said the order “has long been overdue” as it is in accordance with the transparency provision of the Philippine Constitution.

The order, he said, “is not only a bastion of the people’s right to information but a weapon for accountability, transparency and good governance.”

Joy Tango, an employee of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the past 14 years, said the EO is in line with the “full disclosure program of the DILG for the local governments.

“We need to exercise transparency in the government so that the people’s trust and confidence in our leaders would be strengthened,” she said.

Tango said while the FOI order sets limitations it has provided “no excuse to cover up for something irregular that may happen.”

She said to make the FOI meaningful there should be a law that must be passed so that all branches of government could be covered by the “full disclosure” policy.

“After all transparency must be practiced by everyone in government,” Tango emphasized.

Christine Villanueva, a teacher and mother who used to stay in Davao City but has now made Albay her home, said “change is really here.”

“Every step of the way we can see that the government is now reaching out to the people,” she said.

Ken Tabuena, a resident of Legazpi City, said he hopes the FOI order will become a law, so the legislative and judiciary branches of the government will be included.(PNA) PGL/GVR/CBD/MSA/