ARANGKADA FOI! UPDATE # 1

19 May 2010

Dear friends,

In a few days, Congress will resume its session. Under the original legislative calendar, this is scheduled on May 31. However, the Senate and the House of Representatives have decided to advance the resumption to May 24 to facilitate an earlier canvass of the votes for the President and Vice President.

The Right to Know. Right Now! Campaign is prepared to make a determined push for the passage of the Freedom of Information Act. The bill, after having hurdled reconciliation by the bicameral conference committee, only needs ratification by the Lower House (the Senate has already fulfilled its ratification last February 1) before it is enrolled and transmitted to the President for her signing into law.

The rules of the House of Representatives allow the ratification of the bicameral conference report on the Freedom of Information bill ahead of any other business on the day of resumption of session. Rule X, Section 61 states: “(T)he consideration of conference committee reports shall always be in order, except when the Journal is being read, while the roll is being called, or the House is dividing on any question.”

We call on you to join us in the activities that we have lined up for the coming weeks. Your support will add inspiration and muscle to the campaign, and improve the chance of the FOI bill finally becoming law after more than two decades since the ratification of the 1987 Constitution.

Schedule of activities

§ 20 May, Thursday, 5:30 pm at Morato Circle — Noise Barrage: Mag Ingay for FOI

§ 24 May, Monday, 11 am — ARANGKADA FOI: Motorcade-Rally from UP to Batasan

§ 25 May, Tuesday, 8:30 am to 4 pm, at Diosdado Macapagal Hall, UP School of Economics — International Forum “FREEDOM OF INFORMATION NATIONAL DEMAND, GLOBAL LESSONS”

§ 27 May, Thursday, from 1:30-5:30 p.m. at the BanCom Room, Asian Institute of Management, Paseo de Roxas Avenue, Makati City  —  “Trade and Transparency: Rethinking Executive Privilege in Philippine Trade Policymaking and Economic Planning”

§ 30 May, Sunday  — Mass offered for the passage of the Freedom of Information Act

International Forum

Our international forum titled “FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: NATIONAL DEMAND, GLOBAL LESSONS” is set on May 25, whole day, at the Diosdado Macapagal Hall, UP School of Economic in Diliman. The morning will be devoted to a discussion of the Philippine FOI bill, updates on global developments on FOI, and lessons from struggles in other countries. In the afternoon, we have invited key leaders of the Philippine government, for us to present our demand/appeal, and to get their response.

We have two foreign guests: Toby Mendel and Aruna Roy.

Toby Mendel is the executive director of the Center for Law and Democracy, a Canadian-based human rights non-governmental organization. The centre provides legal expertise regarding foundational rights for democracy, including the right to information, freedom of expression and the rights to assembly and association.  Prior to that he spent 12 years as senior director for law at Article 19, an NGO focused on freedom of expression. He has provided expertise on freedom of expression and the right to information to inter-governmental organizations and numerous governments and NGOs in countries all over the world. His latest written work is a UNESCO publication titled “Freedom of Information, A comparative Legal Survey”.

Aruna Roy is the leading RTI activist in India. Her work with local communities in Rajasthan in demanding records on public spending, and uncovering irregularities in the process, became the inspiration for the growth of the India RTI Movement. This led to the passage of the first Indian state level RTI law, ollowed by other states, and culminating in the passage of the India national law on RTI. In 2000, Aruna became a recipient of the Magsaysay Award for community leadership

Noise Barrage

We will hold a noise barrage on 20 May, Thursday, at Morato Circle. Assembly time at the venue is at 5:30. Our friends from PM, APL, MAKABAYAN and BMP are committing a core group of 100 people. Everyone is encouraged to come.

ARANGKADA FOI: MOTORCADE-RALLY

We will hold a motorcade rally on 24 May, the day of the resumption of Congress.

Assembly will be at the UP administration building area (Oblation), at 11:00 am. A motorcade will then proceed to Batasan for our program. So far, we have the commitment of 900 participants and 60 vehicles joining the motorcade-rally.

WE NEED EVERYONE’S SUPPORT FOR ATTENDANCE AND VEHICLE PARTICIPATION.

Mass for FOI

We are happy to have the continuing commitment of CBCP-NASSA to the campaign. Bishop Broderick Pabillo will be offering mass for the passage of the FOI law on May 30 at 10:30 am, at the St. Peter’s Cathedral along Commonwealth near Batasan.

We also received the response of Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao to our letter to him, signifying his interest on the issue.

Davao Activities

Our colleagues in Davao, led by AFRIM and LRC, will have a mobilization/program at Freedom Park, fronting AdDU on the day of resumption of session. The program will include poetry-reading and performances.

Issues Forum

Trade and Transparency

Rethinking executive privilege in Philippine trade policymaking and economic planning

Very few government policies have impacts as far-reaching and long-lasting on a country’s development as its trade and economic policies. Yet throughout history, trade policymaking and economic planning have largely been decided by government bureaucrats and diplomats behind closed doors, with very little public disclosure and people’s participation. That however is changing: with the increase in global poverty and inequality despite globalization and economic growth, people around the world are pushing for greater transparency, access to information, and people’s participation in economic planning and trade policymaking.

The Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS) and the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center present “Trade and Transparency: Rethinking Executive Privilege in Philippine Trade Policymaking and Economic Planning.” This forum will tackle the Philippine experience in accessing information in trade policymaking and economic planning, most especially within the last 10 years, and will feature speakers from the Philippine business community, civil society, and government agencies involved in trade and economic policy. The forum will be held on Thursday, May 27, 2010 from 1:30-5:30 p.m. at the BanCom Room, Asian Institute of Management, Paseo de Roxas Avenue, Makati City.

Support of FOI champions in Congress

We have a number of FOI champions in the Lower House, led by Represenatives Erin Tañada, Joel Villanueva, Walden Bello, Bienvenido Abante, Riza Hontiveros, Del de Guzman, Ed Zialcita, Satur Ocampo, Rufus Rodriguez, TG Guingona, and Edno Joson determined to push for the ratification of the FOI bicam report at the resumption of session. We expect other legislators to also signify their express commitment.

We reiterate: if the leaders of the Lower House and President Arroyo will it, the law can still be passed. It does not require the bending of any rule; the rules in fact support it.

Best of luck to all of us! ARANGKADA FOI!

Sincerely,

Atty. Nepomuceno Malaluan

Spokesperson

Right to Know. Right Now! Campaign

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