It was no less than a betrayal of the people, a final push for greater government transparency foiled by suspected Palace allies who left the plenary hall or simply refrained from attending the session.
During the roll call for the approval of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill last Friday, only 128 lawmakers were present in last Friday’s session – seven House members short of the 135 needed to get a quorum.
Names of relatives by President Gloria Arroyo and known Palace defenders stand out in the list of absent lawmakers: Presidential son Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, Rep. Diosdado Arroyo, Rep. Ignacio Arroyo, and Rep. Maria Lourdes T. Arroyo, Rep. Danilo Suarez, close ally Rep. Pablo Garcia, and the butcher Jovito Palparan.
This is despite Palace’s earlier expression of support for the ratification of the FOI Bill. Apparently, it has only hypocrisy to show. Arroyo wouldn’t really want the FOI bill ratified because it’s like preparing her own grave.
With this epic failure of the 14th Congress headed by no other than “Noggie” Nograles, an Arroyo lackey, the Arroyo administration caps its sour relation with the media with another despicable move. (We cannot forget the journalist killings since 2001, filing of libel suits by the First Gentleman, and the harassment and baseless arrest of journalists during the Manila Peninsula stand-off in 2007).
But the Congress’ failure wasn’t just about the media. It was more than just keeping the government cloak intact from the media’s eye. It was actually the public’s loss, for Arroyo and her allies pulled another trick that will shield her from prosecution over their countless crimes against the people.
As for Noynoy Aquino, the battle for the FOI Bill under his administration will test not only his political will to further expose Arroyo’s dirty deals and get her prosecuted, but also his commitment to a transparent and corruption-free government.