FOI bill will ensure transparency in government undertakings – Jun Magsaysay

Former Senator Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay Jr. today maintained the Filipino people deserve absolute transparency for projects and programs where public funds are involved.

Magsaysay issued the statement as he reaffirmed his support for passage of the proposed Freedom of Information bill pending before the House committee on public information, which suffered a blow Thursday last week due to contentions on procedural matters.

“I would always be supportive of its passage. Why? Because the Senate investigation into the fertilizer fund scam during the 13th Congress stressed the need for transparency and accountability in all government transactions. To achieve that, information must be opened to the public for scrutiny,” said Magsaysay.

He stressed: “We must all work together in putting back integrity to public service. Let us all join hands in giving the Filipino people a humane and principled leadership anchored on moral principles. Let us always ensure that those who have less in life have more in law.”

Magsaysay recalled that in 2006, the Senate showed its bravest front when the Senate Committee on Agriculture, which he then chaired, looked into the P728 million fund diversion controversy and recommended the filing of charges against officials of the Department of Agriculture despite attempts by the Arroyo administration to discourage and silence Congress from performing its mandated legislative function.

“Sa panahon nga ng investigation ko lumabas iyan Executive Order 464 at iyong memorandum circular ni dating Pangulong Arroyo na bawal humarap sa legislative inquiries iyong mga miyembro ng gabinete,” he recalled.

Magsaysay also said that even in the past the “open-book policy” has proven to be effective especially in sowing trust and promulgating honesty in public offices , just as the late Jesse Robredo had advocated when he was mayor of Naga City and secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Magsaysay added there is no better way to celebrate Philippine Press Freedom Day than to have the Freedom of Information measure passed and approved by the House of Representatives before Congress adjourns for the Holiday season. A House panel has recently approved for plenary action a proposed bill declaring November 23 of every year as Philippine Press Freedom Day.