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.
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 conventional wisdom is that the Philippines has good, even great laws, but that the problem is in the implementation, which is done either badly or not at all. The country, so say the conditional and eternal optimists, would otherwise be an earthly paradise via legislation.
But anyone who’s been following the decisions of the Supreme Court should have reason enough to question the validity of that claim. In its most recent rulings, the Court was practically warning the citizenry to scrutinize every major piece of legislation ground out by the Congressional lawmaking mill—they’re likely to be constitutionally flawed.