Great disservice to the country
PRESIDENT Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s refusal to open his bank account to public scrutiny and failure to fully support the passage of the Freedom of Information Act seem to indicate that his campaign for government transparency is only skin deep and apparently just meant against his political foes.
Abigail Valte, Aquino’s spokesperson, explained there is no reason for the President to sign a waiver since he is not being accused of graft or dishonesty.
She said Aquino’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth or SALN is already available to the public adding that the President has no dollar account.
Aquino and his spokes-person are missing the point.
The President need not be charged before an Impeachment Court to lead by example.
His continued refusal to sign a waiver despite the growing public clamor is a disservice to his boss, the people, and the institutions he is sworn to protect.
Aquino, who made a campaign promise during the 2010 presidential elections to open his bank accounts to the public, should not dismiss with a wave of the hand Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano’s call for him to set a new standard of transparency for government officials and employees by signing a waiver.
“I ask the President to instruct his Cabinet to sign the waivers or resign and leave the government. Lead by following or get out of the way,” Cayetano said.
Ironically it was former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona who first signed an unconditional waiver of confidentiality on his bank accounts, albeit belated, when he testified during his impeachment trial.
Corona was later removed from his post by the Impeachment Court after he was found guilty of failure to declare his P80 million and $2.4 million deposits in his SALN.
Palabra de honor dictates that Aquino should live up to his campaign promise.
This moment is a golden opportunity for the President to show our people that he is leading the nation by example and that he is on a “matuwid na landas.”
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While we are distracted by Corona’s impeachment trial, Congress is working on laws penalizing newsmen who breached information confidentiality and increasing penalties for libel, slander and intriguing against honor despite the continuing call of Filipino journalists to decriminalize libel and protect press freedom in the country.
These ominous bills, together with the continuing killings of journalists and Aquino’s lackluster support for the FOI Act is not only an institutionalized attack against media entities but on the freedom of the press. It is a blatant and shameless attack against the people’s constitutional right to know the truth.
Can we trust the new Supreme Court to defend the constitutionality of press freedom from the determined onslaught of the executive and legislative bodies of the government?
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