Watching President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address earlier, I was anticipating two things which I have always thought to be essential to his slogan of Daang Matuwid (The Right Path).
While I laud Aquino’s words of us taking pride in the capabilities and accomplishments of our scientists and entrepreneurs; and his appreciation of the efforts of our soldiers, teachers, and nurses in their service to our people, there was still something lacking.
I think it would be natural for someone like me who earns his keep with the use of words, pictures, and video of events, to anticipate that the President will be citing the Freedom of Information Act and the Whitleblower’s Bill as essential legislative measures which must be passed by Congress as soon as possible.
Sadly, these was no mention of either of the bills. And none was also heard of the passing of a National Land Use Law, the long-rumored Anti-Trust Bill, and the controversial Reproductive Health Bill. These were not given explicit nor implicit remarks by the President.
The FOIA and the Whistleblower’s Bill are two essentials that the Aquino administration needs in its supposed fight against corruption, abuse of power, and irregularities in government.
The Freedom of Information Act will allow journalists, researchers, and even ordinary well-meaning taxpayers to access information on government project, offices, and expenses. The accessibility of these information is essential to ensuring the transparency and accountability of public offices to the people.
The Whistleblower’s Bill on the other hand would be essential in the protection of individuals who have uncovered irregularities in government through privileged communication or use of the FOIA. With this bill, the lives of individuals courageous enough to step forward and right the wrongs, as well as those of their family, will be protected.
The FOIA and the Whistleblower’s Bill are the wings which are supposed to lift the Aquino administration’s campaign against corruption, abuse, and irregularities. But considering that what happened earlier was the 2nd State of the Nation Address given by Aquino, and the two legislative pieces still remain missing from his speech, I am inclined to think that Aquino’s dreams of a more accountable and transparent government, will not get off the ground.