Last Friday, June 4, was an unfortunate day for the House of Representatives in particular, and for the Arroyo administration in general. The ending scenario of the Lower House just confirms the belief of many in the country. This administration is hiding a lot of things and it is afraid of the truth. Who would oppose the Freedom Of Information (FOI) bill in a democracy? It is very basic that people can participate responsibly in a democratic process when nothing is hidden from them. It is very basic in a democratic process that those who govern are but representatives of the people on whom real power resides. How can representatives hide from the people who elect them information that is meant for the common good? What makes people doubt and even “hate” this administration are its efforts to hide the truth of many issues in governance from the people. The FOI bill is supposed to make this process of transparency , and hence accountability, clearer and easier for the people. It is meant to bolster our democratic processes. Why is congress so afraid of this? If it had passed the FOI the 14th congress could have given the country a contribution toward a stronger democracy. It could have been a strong message to all that all the talks about corruption and hiding the truth are not true. But now the opposite is stands. The present Arroyo administration is all the more held suspect.
What happened last Friday showed also showed us make kind of leader Speaker Nograles is. He is not trustworthy. All his protestations that he is for the FOI bill, which he even co-authored, are sham. In the first place why should he have waited for the last day of congress to put to the floor ratification of the bicameral conference? It also shows his weak leadership. He cannot even have his bill, so he claimed, passed. Or is he just a stooge for someone else?
The Arroyo administration cannot wash its hands on this fiasco. There is a strong suspicion that it has a hand in this. We shall see this hand in the 15th congress when the bill will be filed again. We shall see who shall delay or kill it? The absence of the three Arroyo representatives in the house last Friday is very revealing. They were out to kill it!
They killed it but FOI will not die! It will rise again in the next congress—and stronger! What happened in the last two weeks when the Lower House was dilly-dallying with FOI made more people aware of it. More will lobby and support it. It will become a law of the land! Unfortunately for the 14th congress, it will not have the honor of bringing it to life. The truth will come to light! The fight moves on!