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Poe pushes anew for FOI passage.

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Grace Poe on Monday pushed anew for the passage of the proposed Freedom of Information (FOI) law after the House of Representatives passed a measure imposing stricter access to its members' Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs).

Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, said that while she understands that congressmen sought to ensure their safety in approving a resolution on their SALNs, government officials, under the 1987 Constitution, are mandated to the disclose their wealth to the public.

"Nakasaad kasi talaga sa ating Konstitusyon na ang bawat kawani at opisyal ng gobyerno ay dapat mag-submit ng SALN; at ang SALN na 'yan ay dapat puwedeng makuha at makilatis ng kahit na sino sa ating mga kababayan," she said. (It is really stated in our Constitution that each worker and official of the government should submit their SALNs and these should be made available for our countrymen's scrutiny.)

Poe stressed the importance of making public the SALNs as these could be used as a basis if an official should be investigated for undeclared assets.

The senator said the proposed FOI Act could ensure transparency among public officials, saying that its non-enactment will encourage dishonesty in government.

"Dapat na talagang maipatupad ang batas ng FOI sapagkat hangga't hindi ito naisasabatas ay puwedeng humanap ng paraan para hindi ilabas ang katotohanan," she said. (We should really pass the FOI bill because without it, people can always find ways to hide the truth.)

"Ang ikinababahala ko lang kasi ay kung magiging istrikto tayo sa pagpapalabas ng SALN, baka mas lalong lumakas ang loob ng mga ibang may hindi naman maayos na gawain," she added.

(I am just concerned that if we become stricter in releasing the SALNs, unscrupulous officials would be emboldened to continue with their illegal activities.)

According to the Senate's website, Senate Bill 1208, which seeks to enforce the people's right to information and the constitutional policies on the full public disclosure and honesty in public service, has been languishing in the Chamber's plenary since its sponsorship in October 2016.

The bill has yet to hurdle approval on second reading.

Poe maintained that any Filipino should have access to information on government agencies and officials.


Senator Grace Poe (Senate of the Philippines official Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)

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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Feb 5, 2019
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