NEEDLESS to say, no incumbent president will ever allow a freedom of information bill to pass under his watch. Not even an electoral victor who vowed his countrymen the “good and noble” oath of transparency by giving access to public information.

Over a year after wooing the public of his grand and ambitious political agenda that catapulted him to the country’s highest office, President Aquino III seemed to have reneged on his promise to pass the proposed bill that had almost been promulgated in the 14th Congress if not for the House of Representatives’ failure to ratify the reconciled House and Senate versions.

Nowadays, instead of working to pass the bill, he's singing a different tune. During the Youtube Worldview series last October, he warned that the bill may “inflict harm” to the nation for “the devil is in the details”—a sudden shift in opinion that suits media criticisms that he is dilly-dallying while engaging in doublespeak.

It is dismaying that after taking over Malacañang, he shrugged off this pledge and, instead, committed himself fully to the Reproductive Health bill—which was not a part of his “tuwid na daan” campaign scheme—that cannot even contribute to the people’s perennial dream of an “open government.”

What happened to the Philippines’ participation in US president Barrack Obama’s Open Government Partnership last July? Was it only a mere show-off so that Filipinos may be fooled that the Aquino government is fulfilling the promises it pronounced during the 2010 national polls? He even botched the chance to update the public on the matter when he did not mention the bill in his second State of the Nation Address.

6% tuition hike seen next sem

It appears that while journalists and freedom of information advocates try to end the 15-year deferment of this kind of bill, Aquino and his men are softly killing the bill by voicing out every excuse they can come up with, just to avoid embracing the citizens’ call.

As alibi, they point to public information causing hysteria. Clearly, this is an and insult to the media and the public.

Aquino, since he rose to power, has been overly sensitive to press criticisms. During the Youtube interview, a seven-year-old boy asked a perfectly innocent question whether the President believes in Santa Claus and his Christmas wish.

Instead of giving a soft response, Aquino refilled his rifle and slammed his critics, saying that people must veer away from criticizing and start to care for others.

He was the first Asian leader who was given the chance to communicate to the globe of what the direction of Philippines would be under his watch, but he bungled this opportunity because of his distrust in the media.

It is ironic that he is vilifying the media when he is being featured on a pro-democracy movement that is the Internet. It is ironic that he is bashing the press when it is the very entity that helped his mother and former president Corazon Aquino restored democracy in 1986.

Compared to the criticisms raised during the tenure of his mother, today’s critics aren’t throwing savage remarks against him. Media criticisms are part of public discourse; it isn’t a tool for destruction but an intelligent and objective discourse. He must remember the importance of the press to the political history of the country and stop acting like a freshman being bullied by seniors. Or perhaps, he takes pleasure in nonsensical questions pertaining to his so-called “love life?”

Kapangyarihang maglingkod sa kapwa

Perhaps that's his version of the press, crass as his sister Kris.


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