GMANews.TV – Wednesday, February 9
President Benigno Aquino III assured media on Tuesday of his administration’s commitment to transparency in government despite the absence of a Freedom of Information law. In an interview with reporters, Aquino expressed concern over some provisions of the FOI bill pending before Congress, particularly those referring to the release of raw reports. “[In the case of the] Freedom of Information [bill], we still need to work on it. We’re still fine-tuning exactly how it will be, the details, of this FOI bill,” he said. He said making public a raw report could lead to panic. “For instance, meron tayong mga [we have] youth ambassadors sent to a country in the ASEAN or in Asia. Tapos ‘pag balik, may suspected SARS ‘yung isa doon [Then when they return, one has suspected SARS]—so [that’s a] raw report,” Aquino said.
“Theoretically, a FOI measure would say that even the raw report should be made public already. May tendency tayo na sasabihin suspected, lalabas po ‘pag nasa istasyon na ng media ay baka may panic na i-induce,” he added. The President said in that instance the government will not hide the information but will refuse to discuss it to avoid panic. “There are times that when especially in a raw state, hindi natin pwedeng idi-discuss[we can’t discuss a report] lest we might have apprehensions raised that are not necessary,” he said. “We have not avoided any question that has been thrown our way. So even in the absence of any Freedom of Information Law, we have been trying to be transparent to the utmost level possible,” he added. The FOI bill is not among the 17 priority bills Aquino will be presenting to the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) on February 28. (See: Palace bares 17 priority bills)—Amita O. Legaspi/JV, GMA News