On July 23, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 2 mandating public access to information held by the agencies and offices of the executive branch. The non-governmental organizations that have been campaigning for a freedom of information (FOI) act for decades welcomed it with cautious optimism. The EO encouraged the legislature and judiciary to do the same, but the FOI advocates nevertheless pointed out the need for a law that would cover all three branches of government.
Former President, and, since July of the year that’s about to end, Speaker of the House of Representatives Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was generous in her praise for her accomplices during her speech last Wednesday when the aptly-named Lower House adjourned for the Christmas break.
There are two countries that go by the name “Philippines.” The real, historical one is home to the Filipino millions, nearly half of whom are poor and powerless because they’re ruled by one of the most corrupt and most incompetent political classes on the planet. The other is an imaginary one — a creation of those very same rulers to convince the ruled that everything is fine, indeed nearly perfect, in this earthly paradise.
A March 31 statement by the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES), for example, kept referring to “the Philippines.” But it sounded as if it were describing an entirely different country outside of history.
THE NEED for closure was among the reasons Justice Secretary Laila de Lima cited to put in context her denial of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s petition for travel abroad. Closure is what has eluded Filipinos most when it comes to the most critical events and issues that have confronted this country since its independence was restored.
De Lima acknowledged that the decision was political, but based as well on legal considerations and an evaluation of Mrs. Arroyo’s medical condition: “It may be political. One thing’s for sure, it’s more than medical or legal. It may be a combination of all, but what’s important is that it will serve the ends of justice.”
BENIGNO Aquino III blames not only his immediate predecessor, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, for the country’s ills; he’s also mentioned the late Ferdinand Marcos as equally responsible for them.
For doing that in some of his speeches and interviews with the media — and implying that Marcos and his female clone have made changing anything extremely difficult if not impossible — not only the partisans of Arroyo have accused Mr. Aquino of trying to deflect criticism from his own administration’s inadequacies. So have others impatient with the administration’s seeming inability to solve the country’s most urgent problems.