THE National Press Club of the Philippines (NPC), the country’s oldest and biggest organization of active members of the press, is opposed to efforts by lawmakers making it more difficult for the public to get records from Congress, especially those pertaining to their ‘Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth’ (SALN), thru House Resolution 2467.
“The present time calls for more transparency in all areas of governance and this effort by the majority of our congressmen in putting more hurdles for the public to get the records of our elected public officials only adds to the public perception that Congress remains as a ‘House of Ill-Repute.’
“If only to ease the worries of our lawmakers, data now available thru the Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) after 2 years of its implementing Executive Order No. 2 or the FOI Law for the Executive Branch signed by Pres. Duterte in June 2016, disclosed that a mere six (6) percent of our countrymen are interested in knowing the personal information (SALN) of public officials,” the NPC added.
EO No. 2 mandates the entire Executive Branch to disclose a wide range of government data and records to the public except those covered by certain restrictions.
“Indeed, the same data also disclosed that far from ‘snooping’ around for the personal records of public officials, 42 percent of Filipinos are more interested in getting their hands on official and legal documents, among others, while 39 percent are interested in knowing relevant government data and statistics for academic and scholarly studies,” the NPC added.
The NPC and the PCOO last January 31, 2019, held an ‘FOI/Press Freedom Caravan’ at the NPC building where the above figures and other accomplishments of the PCOO were presented to the members of the press.
“The Executive Branch,” the NPC added, “has already taken the lead in answering our people’s demand for greater access to information thru EO No. 2. Congress, for its part, must now give way and follow this example,” the group stressed further.
“Bearing the above figures in mind, the apparent ‘paranoia’ being displayed by our congressmen over their zealous effort to protect their self-claimed ‘public reputation’ can only earn them further dismay from the public. Their self-doubt are baseless,” the NPC said, adding:
“Ano ba ang dapat itago ng Kongreso sa publiko.”
“At the end of the day, their performance, as elected public officials, in making true our people’s dreams and aspirations, would be the yardstick by which Filipinos would pass judgement on them and not by their carefully manicured image.”
The NPC also reminded that members of the press should do their share in calling for the immediate passage of the FOI bill by Congress.
“May we remind our colleagues that Article 4 of our Journalist Code of Ethics demands from us to “fight vigorously for public access to information, as provided for in the Constitution,” the NPC pointed out.