Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Freedom of information

THE 1986 Philippine Constitution, Art. III, Section 7, provides: “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitation as may be provided by law.”

The above provision clearly forwards three signal principles: One, that information on matters relevant to public concern is nothing less than a constitutional right. Two, that the officiality of government acts and records, transactions or decisions, gives rise to public concerns. Three, that any limitation to such a constitutional right of the citizens of the Philippines is but an exception to the rule.

The 2004 Social Doctrine of the Universal Church, n. 414, teaches: “Information is among the principal instruments of democratic participation.”

The above doctrinal pronouncement in turn strongly advances three salient norms that are in accord with the said provision of the Philippine Constitution: One, that information is the basis of transparency. Two, that information is the basis of participation. Three, that information is the premise of democracy.

The same constitutional provision and ecclesial doctrine combined advances the following objective and practical truths.

*The following are anchored on human dignity:
Right knowledge on the part of the mind.
Right decision on the part of the will.
Right resolves in living private and public life.

*The following are contradictory terminals:
Misinformation and fitting resolve.
Falsity and correct option.
Error and right judgment.

*The following are dissonant pairings:
Ignorance and genuine democracy.
Disinformation and free election.
Deceit and social equity.

With all the above realities concerned, it is very strange that a government that boast of integrity, probity and honesty, does not have the “Freedom of Information Act” as a priority agenda.


OVCRUZ, JCD
28 September 2011