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Chiz backs passage of Freedom of Info Bill

By Office of Sen. Chiz Escudero
November 9, 2009

PASAY CITY  –  Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday expressed his support for the passage of the Freedom of Information bill before the Senate adjourns for the 2010 elections.

“This is a measure that will go a long way in our people’s fight against graft and corruption in high places and boost transparency in government. It’s time has come,” he said.

Escudero also asked the Senate to act on a bill requiring all public officials and employees to waive the exemption of their deposit accounts from the bank secrecy law.  Senate Bill No. 1476 was one of the first bills he filed during his first year as senator in 2007.

The waiver will be made in favor of the Office of the Ombudsman and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) that would enable them to compel financial institutions here and abroad to provide information and documents on financial assets, deposits, investments in bonds and securities of those in the public service.

The proposed freedom on information act seeks to implement the right of the people to information on matters of public concern and the state policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.

Escudero proposed amendments to the bill seeking to ensure that official records related to loans obtained or guaranteed by government; government contracts; statements of asset, liabilities, and net worth of government officials; and those pertaining to official investigations on graft and corrupt practices of public officers “should not be destroyed.”

He also asked for the creation of a records management program that will allow easy identification, retrieval and communication of information to the public.

The 40-year old lawmaker also sought the creation of a database, in digital and online form, of all laws, presidential issuances, and appointments, and opinions of the Secretary of Justice.

“This will aid us all in maintaining institutional memory. Rascals and malefactors have always found comfort in the fact that we seem to have very short memory as a people,” he said.

Escudero was among several senators who signed the committee report on Senate Bill 3308 last June 3. The measure was jointly sponsored by the committees on public information and mass media and on civil service and government reorganization.