After long struggle, the passage of the Freedom of Information Act is finally near at hand!

At the resumption of session last Monday (18 January), we marched to the House of Representatives with a rally contingent of 1000 to call on our House of Representatives to stand for Freedom of Information. With Committee on Public Information Chairman Bienvenido Abante, Jr., Vice Chairman Eduardo Zialcita, Committee TWG Chairman Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, and Minority member Rufus Rodriguez, we met with Speaker Prospero Nograles to appeal for the immediate constitution of the House Panel to the Bicameral Conference Committee on the Freedom of Information Act.

We were not frustrated. The final act of Congress before it adjourned for the day was the naming of the following members to the House Panel: Rep. Bienvenido Abante, Jr. (Chairman), Rep. Eduardo Zialcita, Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, Rep. Rodolfo Antonino, Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla, Rep. Rodante Marcoleta for the Majority, and Rep. Joel Villanueva and Rep. Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales for the Minority.

On Wednesday, 20 January, the Bicameral Conference Committee met at the Senate to reconcile the disagreeing provisions of House Bill 3732 and Senate Bill 3308. Present were Senators Alan Peter Cayetano (Chairman) and Juan Miguel Zubiri for the Senate Panel, and Representatives Abante (Chairman), Zialcita, Tañada, Antonino, and Cruz-Gonzales for the House Panel.

We congratulate the conferees present for discharging their legislative work with efficiency and dispatch. Noting that the Senate Committee on Public Information used the House Bill as starting point, the two panels agreed to focus their discussion on the amendments introduced by the Senate. Even as these amendments were meant to address remaining legitimate concerns raised by stakeholders and by Senators, Representatives Abante, Zialcita, Tañada, Antonino, and Cruz-Gonzales still took the responsibility and care to ask further clarifications, and to introduce further refinements and improvements. The result is a reconciled bill that is as much a House as it is a Senate version.

With the Bicameral Conference Committee Report approved on the same day, Freedom of Information is back on track.

We look to the Senate and to the House of Representatives to complete the final legislative actions on the bill this week. With efficient work from the Senate and House Committee secretariats, the Senate Panel has already signed the Bicameral Conference Committee Report and we only await the signatures of the House Panel.

We look forward to the prompt filing of the signed Report and to its distribution to our Senators and Representatives. We eagerly await immediate action by each House on the Bicameral Conference Committee Report. For a few minutes of session on Tuesday or Wednesday (26 or 27 January), we count on our Senators and Congressmen to set aside political contentions that go with the nearing elections, and unanimously ratify the Bicameral Conference Committee Report on the Freedom of Information Act.

The Freedom of Information Act will address the substantive and procedural gaps that have long prevented our full enjoyment of our right to information. It will supply a definite procedure for access, enumerate clearly the information that government may validly keep secret, spell out the remedies in cases of denial, impose penalties for unlawful violation of our right to information, require the automatic disclosure of important government transactions, and establish mechanisms for the active promotion of openness in government.

When finally signed into law by the President, we have no doubt that the Freedom of Information Act will be a strategic and most significant contribution of the 14th Congress to the fundamental renewal of public institutions in our country.

Right to Know. Right Now!

Right to Know. Right Now! Campaign
25 January 2010

1. Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III 4th District, Quezon

Rep. Joel Villanueva CIBAC
Party List

Rep. Del De Guzman 2nd
District, Marikina City

4. Rep. Riza Hontiveros-Baraquel Akbayan

Rep. Walden Bello

Atty. Nepomuceno Malaluan Action
for Economic Reforms (AER)

6. Dr. Florangel
Rosario – Braid Asian
Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC)

7. Dean Antonio La
Viña Ateneo School
of Government (ASoG)

8. Ms. Angelica Simone
Mangahas Ateneo Debate Society

9. Ms. Adelina Alvarez Center for
Community Journalism and Development (CCJD)

10. Prof. Luis Teodoro Center for Media
Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR)

11. Atty. Roberto

12. Mr. Sonny Fernandez; National
Union of Journalists of the

Mr. Nestor Burgos Philippines (NUJP)

13. Mr. Bartholome
Guingona pagbabago@pilipinas

14. Ms. Malou Mangahas Philippine Center for Investigative
Journalism (PCIJ)

15. Mr. Vincent T.
Lazatin Transparency
and Accountability Network (TAN)

16. Atty. Virginia S.
Jose Citizens’
Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC)

17. Mr. Joshua Mata Alliance of
Progressive Labor (APL)

18. Mr. Alberto Lim Makati
Business Club

19. Ms. Ellene Sana Center for
Migrant Advocacy (CMA)

20. Ms. Ester Perez
Tagle Concerned
Citizens Against Pollution (COCAP)

21. Ms. Luz Malihiran Community
Organizers Multiversity

22. Mr. Sammy Gamboa EU-ASEAN FTA Campaign

23. Mr. Al Alegre Foundation
for Media Alternatives (FMA)

24. Mr. Milo
Tanchuling Freedom
from Debt Coalition (FDC)

25. Ms. Judy Pasimio Legal Rights and
Natural Resources Center – Kasama sa Kalikasan

26. Atty. Ma. Tanya Karina
Lat; IDEALS, Inc.

Mr. Arnel Mateo

27. Mr. Jude Esguerra; Institute
for Popular Democracy (IPD)

Mr. Doy Cinco

28. Mr. Ric Serrano La Liga
Policy Institute

29. Mr. Rey Rasing Labor
Education and Research Network (LEARN)

30. Atty. Farah Marie
Decano Lady Local Legislators’ League of the
Philippines, Inc. (Four-L Phils.)

31. Mr. Raymond Marvic
C. Baguilat University of the
Philippines – Law Student Government

32. Mr. Ed Mora Pambansang
Kaisahan ng Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (PKMP)

33. Mr. Isagani Serrano Philippine Rural
Reconstruction Movement

34. Ms. Annie Geron Public Services
Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK)

35. Mr. Carlos
Magtolis, Jr. Siliman
University – ASPAP

36. Ms. Evi-Ta Jimenez Center for People
Empowerment in Governance

37. Mr. Joseph
Purugganan Stop the
New Round Coalition

38. Dr. Sixto K. Roxas Maximo T. Kalaw
Institute for Sustainable Development

39. Mr. Ben-Hur
Sacopla Southern
Luzon State University ASPAP – Region IV

40. Ms. Eirene Aguila Team RP

41. Prof. Leonor M. Briones Social Watch Philippines

42. Ms. Mae V. Buenaventura Women’s Legal Bureau, Inc.

43. Ms. Jenina Joy Chavez Focus on the Global South – Philippines

44. Mr. Ramon Tuazon Philippines Communication Society

45. Ms. Ana Maria R.
Nemenzo; WomanHealth Philippines

Ms. Mercedes Fabros

46. Dr. Buenaventura B.
Dargantes Program on Integrated
Water Resources

RDE, Institute for Strategic Research and Development Studies, Visayas State

47. Mr. Boy Nuera Pandayan
para sa Sosyalistang

48. Mr. Roy Calfoforo People’s
Alternative Studies Center for Research and Education in Social Develoment

49. Mr. Alain Pascua Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan All
Filipino Democratic Movement (KAAKBAY)

50. Mr. Horacio T. Cadiz The Philippine Network Foundation, Inc

51. Mr. Joe Valencia KASAPI-HELLAS

52. Mr. Nestor Villanueva Akbayan Greece

53. Mr. Sixto Donato Macasaet CODE-NGO

54. Mr. Jun S. Aguilar Filipino Migrant Workers

55. Mr. Pablo Rosales Progresibong Alyansa ng mga
Mangingisda (PANGISDA)

56. Pambansang
Katipunan ng Makabayang Magbubukid (PKKM)

57. Kilusan
Para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD)

58. Ms. Lourdes M. Tison Paghiliusa sa Paghidaet-Negros (PsPN)

59. Mr. Abby Y. Pato Task Force on Food Sovereignty Mindanao

60. Ms. Karen Tañada Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute

61. Ms. Mardi Mapa-Suplido Negros Peace Watch

62. Dr. Jose Reuben Alagaran Philippines Communication

63. Ms. Aurora Regalado Management Organization for Development and
Empowerment, Inc.

64. Mr. Ernesto Lim Jr. People’s Campaign on Agrarian Reform (AR

65. Mr. Anthony Marzan KAISAHAN

66. Mr. Jesus Vicente Garganera Alyansa Tigil Mina

67. Ms. Luz Cabucos-Fegarido RSW

68. Ms. Maria Lisa Alano Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao
(AFRIM), Inc.

69. Dr. Jose Reuben Alagaran II Philippines Communication Society

70. Ms. Ma. Lourdes M. Tison Paghiliusa sa Paghidaet-Negros

71. Mr. Joel Saracho GCAP-Phils

72. Ms. Trinidad Domingo Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa

73. Mr. Richard Gutierrez Ban Toxics

74. Mr. Nonoy Oplas Minimal Government Thinkers

75. Mr. Harvey
Kaya Natin! Movement

76. Mr. Czarina Sacaguing    Confederation of Student
Government in the Philippines

77 Mr. Byron Abadeza Affiliated Network for Social
Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific

78. Dr. Ma. Olivia Domingo Center for Leadership, Citizenship and
Democracy, UP-NCPAG

79. Dr. Angelo Ramos Philippine Community e-Center Network

80. Ms. Mae Sabio Sulong

81. Mr. Diosdado Calmada PEACE

82. Ms. Lanie Factor Task Force Mapalad

83. Ms. Maris Dela Cruz – Cardenas EmPOWER Consumers

84. Mr. Wilson Fortaleza Partido ng Mangagawa

85. Atty. Elpidio Peria Third World Network

Chairman, Social Concerns Committee, IBP South Cotabato – General Santos City

86. Prof. Gigi Francisco Miriam College – International Studies

87. Mr. Obet Pagdanganan Coalition for Health Advocacy and Transparency

88. Mr. Omi Royandoyan Centro Saka

89. Ms. Carolyn Arguillas MindaNews

90. Mr. Abner Francisco DXCA – FM

91. Ms. Florencia Casanova-Dorotan Women’s Action Network for Development

92. Ms. Violeta Corral Aksyon para sa Kapayapaan at Katarungan

93. Mr. Crispino Aguelo Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang
Magsasaka (PAKISAMA)

94. Ms. Michelle Domocol Visayas Climate Action Network

95. Judge Dolores L. Español (Ret.) Transparency International –

96. Mr. Roby Alampay Southeast Asian Press Alliance

97. Ms. Teresita Quintos Deles International Center on
Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance (INCITEGov)

98. Ms. Maita Gomez Bantay Kita

99. Mr. Rey Hulog Kapisanan
ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas

100. Mr. Jose Pavia Philippine Press Institute

101. Mr. Isagani Yambot Philippine Daily Inquirer

102. College
Editors Guild of the Philippines

103. Ms. Emy M. Santos National Confederation of Cooperatives

104. Ms. Tes M. Borgoños Manggagawang Kababaihang Mithi ay Paglaya

105. Ms. Marilyn Fuentes National Union of Building and Construction
Workers (NUBCW)

106. Atty. Michael Yu Integrated Bar of the Philippines- Cebu
City Chapter

107. Dr. Prospero
E. de Vera National College of Public
and Governance, University of the

108. Sylvia  Estrada Claudio, M.D. PhD.
Center for Women’s Studies, University of the Philippines

109. Mr. Viktor Samuel Fontanilla UP ALYANSA

110. Ms. Anna Luz Lopez UP BUKLOD CSSP

111. Mr. Jeffrey Crisostomo AKBAYAN Youth – UP Diliman

112. Ms. Susan Ople Blas Ople

113. Mr. Romeo
Cabugnasan Alyansa ng
Maralitang Pilipino

114. Initiative
for International Dialogue