FOI advocates to join Luneta indignation on budget scam
The Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition heeds the spontaneous call for a people’s march to Luneta on August 26. We join the people in expressing collective indignation over the large-scale budget scam reported by various media outfits and by the Commission on Audit, and currently under investigation by the Department of Justice.
While we are still far from knowing the complete facts of this controversy, it is already established that corrupt individuals have systematically created bogus non-government organizations or foundations for the purpose of plundering hard-earned taxpayers’ money through ghost projects, under-deliveries, or overpricing.
Equally repugnant is the breakdown in government check and accountability mechanisms, with the plunder prospering under the very noses of the Department of Budget and Management and the various implementing line agencies of the Executive, the legislators in their PDAF allocations, the Commission on Audit, and the Ombudsman.
Now more than ever we are convinced of the urgency to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. While the COA special audit covered expenditures made prior to 2010, we are deluding ourselves if we think that similar schemes would just magically disappear with the change of administration. Limited proactive transparency in the release of aggregate allocations and spending is not enough to allow citizens to get to the bottom of scams. While it provides leads, we need request-based access to information to be able to dig deeper. The People’s FOI Bill seeks to address this, but it is also the reason why it has been facing determined resistance across government administrations.
We reiterate our resolve to fight, alongside legislators who are showing the independence and similar commitment, for the passage of an effective and empowering FOI law. This is our contribution to the various citizens’ initiatives to push for the accountability of all those involved in the plunder, and to finally put a stop to the budget scams that have bled our public resources.
In relation to the FOI legislative process, we are happy to note that Senator Grace Poe, Chairperson of the Committee on Public Information at the Senate, set the first committee hearing on the FOI Bills on August 27, 10 a.m. We hope for a prompt passage of the bill in the Senate, to allow everyone to focus on overcoming the roadblocks that historically characterize the legislative process on FOI at the House of Representatives.
For the August 26 march, we come in solidarity with citizens who choose to take action, and encourage others to do the same. Our contingent will assemble at Liwasang Bonifacio at 9:00 a.m., and we will then march by 10:00 a.m. to Luneta to join the people’s gathering.
Stop the budget scams!
Deepen, expand and promptly complete the investigation, and prosecute those found to be culpable!
Pass the People’s FOI Act!
PRESS STATEMENT OF
THE RIGHT TO KNOW, RIGHT NOW! COALITION
22 August 2013
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