Life as it happens. Time as it passes.

Sine Die-sappointing: Napag-uusapan Lang Naman 10 (Special Edition)

At the entrance lobby of the House of Representatives of the Philippines in Batasan Hills, QC, there’s a gallery display of the members of the current and closing 14th Congress. On top of the gallery is a quotation by House Speaker Prospero Nograles, which goes “When it comes to the interest of the people, there is no Majority or Minority. There is only one House of the People.”

I hope he’s ready to eat his own words.

I was one among so many hundreds of disappointed citizens who sat at the plenary of the House of Representatives on the final day of session before adjourning sine die, and witnessed their disappointing failure to ratify the Freedom of Information Act of 2010. Sponsored primarily by Public Information Committee Chairman Bienvenido Abante, and co-sponsored by 180 other members of the House, the Bill seeks to enforce the constitutional provision of every Filipino citizen’s right to access information about the dealings of the government. This bill would have become the closest thing to curbing graft and corruption in public office in a drastic way. The bill had the sufficient number of supporting congressmen to be ratified, and had easily passed through various levels of reading without much debate until it finally reached the plenary for final votation. The bill would have been ratified within two minutes.

But, in scripted fashion, the bill was killed right at the plenary where it was expected to be given life.

As a citizen of this country, I felt I was deprived of my right to know, simply because some irresponsible members of Congress chose to be absent, off the floor, or simply numb about the importance of the bill. What is even more puzzling is that the weight of 180 members of the House supporting this bill has been outweighed by the mere lack of quorum.

Now, it’s back to square one for the bill.

I just don’t get why some of our congressmen flaunt themselves to be the representatives of their people, when they themselves are depriving their people of a proper representation in the House. The welfare of the people is being sacrificed for technicality on rules. Observance and obedience of guidelines for conducting business in congress is being followed at the expense of giving the people what they truly deserve–the freedom to know.

I’m starting to doubt that we are in a democracy at all.

Imagine the millions of pesos shelled out every time this bill is filed in congress at the beginning of the regular session. Imagine the hundreds of hours put into research to craft this particular bill. Imagine the great relief the nation can experience once a law that will give transparency to a dubious government is passed. And imagine all of these blessings to the nation, packaged in one bill, all nullified simply because some people thought otherwise.

I can’t imagine.


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