Is government in the Philippines honest?

In my research, I found out the horrible truth. The government only tells us partly of  the truth and partly of the lie almost all the time, from rigging up elections to extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances. Whenever they release a press conference about something that is very sensitive like certain issues occurring from the past until now, like in the Philippines, the “Hello Garci controversy” that was exposed in 2004, where former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo alleged wiretapped conversations with Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, where they discussed vote rigging.[1] On November 23, 2009, in the Amputuan massacre in the Philippines,  58 men and women, of whom 32 were journalists and media workers were killed while on the way to file an electoral certificate of candidacy for Esmael Mangudadatu, in upcoming gubernatorial elections for Maguindanao elections.[2] They tend to cover it out, burying the details that would endanger their position to power. But then the people whom they are obliged to serve are hungry for information and dug those things for the welfare of the country. We only knew these things because someone discovered and exposed it to the masses. Without these people seeking for the truth, we wouldn’t know what’s the truth behind these issues.

The government is the group of people given authority to govern a country or state. A body of people that manages public, and exercise executive, political, and sovereign power through customs, institutions, and laws within a state.[3] The government is like the father of the people of a country that whatever the he say, his children obey. Government officials are public servants yet nowadays they are the ones who are served by the people. They are the ones who must serve the people for the people are the ones put and gave them the authority to govern. That if anything happens without the masses knowing it, they would simple demand for the truth about it.

Sometimes the government withhold information for the said “safety” and “security” of the people. For example, in the National security of the country, they can only let out half of the story for diplomacy reasons. National security and the people’s right to access information are sometimes seen as going on opposite ways. Sometimes there are tensions between the government that wants to keep information secret on national security levels and the people’s right to know held by public authorities but recent happenings dictates that lawful national security interests are shielded when the public is aware about the government’s activities, involving those that protects the national security. Since national security should be publicly released to the public, a little degree of secrecy is right in some other circumstances.[4]

Do you ever wonder how come they have gigantic mansions when their salaries are just enough to sustain day to day needs? They have livable amount of money yet they acquire more. In the case of Supreme Court’s former Chief Justice Corona is one example of the government’s deceit. He was convicted because of his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net-worth (SALN) and the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC) data on his dollar deposits.[5] Another example is the plunder case of former President Estrada. He was convicted of plunder since he received P545 million in illegal gambling and P189.7 million as commission from the billings of the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS of Belle Corporation shares worth P744.61 million and P1.102 billion.[6] They used their power to earn more for their own desires.

Some of the government officials are abusive of their power, like when a government official goes and makes a business. There are many processes and requirements to be passed to a certain government office, but then, using their political power, they can easily find loopholes to get through the processes without complying all the requirements. Some politicians employs their relatives even without passing through the process of employment in a government office, that even if the said person doesn’t attend and work, the person would still received a monthly salary.

Information is very vital to our life as thinking beings. The honesty of the government is plainly ideal. Since they have the power to restrict or keep those information away from us and on the other hand, they have the power to give out the real information to us. For when they own the information, they can bend it all they want, keeping us wandering in the dark. The government can never be honest until we reach its complete transparency letting us trust and support them with their activities which we can able to access.

The Freedom of Information (FOI) is an act to give members of the public rights of access to official documents of the government and public authorities and to provide for connected matters. It will give us the right to information and achieve political transparency in our nation. Access to information, by enabling public scrutiny of government action, not only safeguards against government abuse and abuse by government officials but also permits the public to play a role in determining the policies of the government and thereby forms a crucial component of genuine national security and democratic participation.[7]

If I’m going to ask you, is the government honest? well, what do you think?

The whole truth can never be out here in the Philippines unless FOI is implemented.

Pass the Freedom of Information Bill now!



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