Noynoy's Stance on FOIA Is Inconsistent with his Anti-Corruption Rhetoric

Even before the elections, I have always maintained that Noynoy’s approach to eradicating corruption is wrong.

To reiterate, Aquino’s approach is wrong for the following reasons:

1. Noynoy is using remedies for Petty Corruption (administrative measures).

2. Corruption in the Philippines has gone beyond Petty and is now Systemic.

3. Remedies for Systemic corruption are different from those relating to petty corruption.

However, since Aquino has won, then Filipinos need to learn how to work within that environment – assuming the 60% of who did not vote for Aquino – are not yet ready to take Aquino down extra-constitutionally.

Think about it – in like manner of Erap’s or Marcos’ “destiny” – Aquino being taken down by a popular uprising. Makes you wonder when people will find out that Philippines’ Kennedys are Asia’s Beverly Hillbillies. The Aquinos getting a does of their own medicine – that will be sweet! But I digress.

Use the Right Tool for the Job

Noynoy was wrong on his approach to corruption during elections. He is still wrong today.

1. Aquino administration is planning to pass a watered down version of the FOIA.

2. FOIA is a major tool for addressing systemic corruption.

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3. Noynoy is not using remedies that address Systemic corruption.

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Clearly Aquino is using a ball-peen hammer to fix a dam. Worse, he is not putting pressure on Congress to strengthen the bill. People should really start to question Aquino’s Sincerity, Honesty, Integrity, and Trustworthiness given his recent foot-dragging and silence on the FOIA.

Unless of course, there are members of the Kamag-Anak Inc who are already doing business with the government and don’t want an FOIA to disclose that. Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

Understanding the Aquino Playbook

It’s easy to read Aquino’s playbook. Alibis, alibis, and more darned alibis. Now, if they can’t sway you with their alibis – they will distract you. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, create a distraction to take the heat off from Noynoy’s incompetence.

The Deception principle involves allowing people to only react to the wrong set of circumstances. When Noynoy actions’ generate heat, Kris steps in and draws the heat away from Noynoy. Much like an F-16 throwing off sidewinder missiles with countermeasures.

Behind Kris’ “misadventures” is actually a calculated and carefully managed P.R. script. Then when people get worked up with Kris, Noynoy steps in – and people forget what it was they were mad at Noynoy about because they got so enthused with Kris.

There’s also the Perfidy principle – Boy Abunda and Kris can also be ruses which are intended to misled Aquino’s adversaries.

This routine will become more commonplace in the next 6 years. I don’t think it’s about to change, not with a demographics that loves telenovelas that run longer more than six years (Annaliza, Flordeluna, Marimar). Nor do I expect people to get riled up with buffoonery in government because they have been sensitized through Wowowee and the stream of toilet humor that floods ABS-CBN programming.

Aquino’s Anti-corruption Bark Isn’t Backed up By His Bite

For all of Aquino’s anti-corruption bark, he doesn’t have a bite. And if he had one – his bite is that of a chihuhua nibbling on an elephant’s toenail dirt. You gotta hand it to Filipino voters though – they have a knack for throwing monkey wrenches at the good stuff, palibhasa monkey wrenches are the only tools monkeys know how to use with a slight semblance of correct usage.

Sure he can go after these so-called “big crooks”. But how about the “smaller crooks” who when lumped together – still add up to a sizable chunk of revenue losses for the government, and ergo, public services?

Thus far, his responses have been limited to lame ass comments like – “I’m not Superman”. Well who said he was superman? That’s a red herring. Actually, he was being referred to as Super Egghead.

A Strong FOIA Can Deal a Major Blow to Corruption

An abstract of a study by Samia Costa Tavares on Do Freedom of Information Laws Decrease Corruption?” had this to say:

It has been argued that greater transparency is needed to reduce corruption. One way of increasing transparency is through the adoption of Freedom of Information (FOI) laws. This paper uses the introduction of FOI laws as a natural experiment to determine their effect on corruption. Using a sample of democratic countries and two different corruption indices, I find that countries that adopted FOI laws saw an increase in corruption. Results are robust throughout different specifications. Moreover, I find that countries with plurality systems potentially experienced a decrease in corruption following the adoption of FOI legislation. Having a parliamentary system, however, had no impact on the effect of the reform.

Note the special emphasis on “countries with plurality systems potentially experienced a decrease in corruption following the adoption of FOI legislation”. The Philippines has a plurality system – the prognosis looks good. BUT, only if the FOIA is adopted.

Imagine this, with a strong FOIA – every Philippine citizen from Aparri to Jolo can open the Pandora’s boxes at different layers of government.

Compare that to the limitations of a severely underfunded Ombudsman – and the legacy relationships built through the years.

A few investigators versus the expansive manpower of highly driven citizens who are out to sniff and blow up every trace of corruption in the system. Include a “sunshine clause” so that not only shady transactions during Arroyo’s time are covered – but even those prior to Arroyo – including Cory Aquino.

Calling a Fart a Rose Does Not Make It Smell As Sweet

Now, the thing about these recent moves in the 15th Congress to pass the FOIA is the danger of watering down an already watered down version.

It also lacks a sunshine clause. Asian Correspondent’s Danny Arao was quite emphatic when he pointed the need for said clause. He goes on to say:

Concerned individuals and groups should therefore resist any move to make the already watered-down FOIA from getting any weaker. They should consider the following courses of action:

1. Include a “sunshine clause” that will compel the government to disclose confidential documents with historical value after 25 years.

2. Reject any provision that would make the FOIA prospective in nature. If necessary, a provision explicitly stating the FOIA’s retroactive nature should be included.

3. Provide a special provision for the government agencies’ expeditious granting or denial of information requests from journalists, subject to the same “procedure of access” as stated in Section 9(a).

Calling the legislation FOIA, without the substance of an FOIA is so typical of Filipinos’ “pwede na” (will do) mentality.

“Can do” be damned when “will do” comes to town.

FOIA – Can be an empowering tool for Citizens against corruption

By keeeping citizens at bay, Aquino’s anti-corruption talk is all palabas. All talk, no bite, corruption gets worse. Selective implementation of anti-corruption laws against Aquino’s enemies but not on his family and friends does not help Noynoy at all.

If Noynoy Aquino is really intent on eradicating corruption, he should pressure Congress to pass a stronger FOIA not water it down.

To me, the litmus test of Aquino so called sincerity and honesty will be the passing of the FOIA. If it is not passed or watered down – it says Aquino’s anti-corruption talk is plain BULL. Not that we didn’t know it beforehand – or we haven’t said it before.

But if he does pass a stronger FOIA that includes “sunshine clauses”, he will have more citizens joining him on his crusade.

Noynoy is off to a really bad start – and with the FOIA going down the drain, he’s tightening the noose around his administration’s anti-corruption campaign towards a worse finish.

The question is can he overcome/transcend his oligarch tendencies and be a President not only to his cronies and oligarch buddies – but a President to all?



  1. Hyden Toro · ·

    Let us not be distracted what this imbecile is telling us. The Seductress Kris Aquino; that baldhead and hollow head: Boy Abundia; the P.R. Aquino media machine: Lopez Media. These contraptions warp and bend your minds. Know about the DIVERSIONARY TACTIC. It’s part of all warfare. War is just and extension of politics.

    However, we are not all naives and ignorants. Some of us are highly educated and highly intelligent. If these people think they can fool us all. They are wrong. Just focus on what that imbecile, Noynoy Aquino is telling us. Match his words, with his deeds.

  2. Darn, it’s just common sense. The FOIA would have allowed people to look into government activities more easily. It’s transparency, on the of things the Yellow Army rode on. You’re against corruption, you certainly would be for FOIA. Looks like the Yellow Camp is a promising promise breaker.

  3. Ugh, middle of the night kasi, hehe… “on the of thing” = “one of the things”

  4. There was a strong voice from the partylist group who assures the media they will spearhead the FOIA once the new Congress convene.

    But it also depends on what this article is all about – the commitment of the president to the Bill.

    The Boy Nograles/GMA tandem were not poised to push this bill. After all they both have all things to hide.

    (I heard how much Boy’s asking price in any project… much much higher than Noynoy’s galamay in the locals but there is no point divulging where hard evidence are as hard as getting them acceptable to court of law. Duterte knows this as he insinuated in one of his program but then again he hinted also he made a milking of his unaudited intelligence funds.)

  5. Hi BongV, this is another great article that may even be used as reference by those who are really serious in curbing corruption and pushing for the FOI bill..

    I smell some double standard though on those in mass media pushing for FOI.. while they are all ready to blame Arroyo and the 14th congress for ignoring the bill, they are giving Aquino a free pass on this one – not pushing him this early to declare his support for its passing and adaption. The usual lame excuse is that it is supposedly not yet the proper time to push anything as Aquino is not yet in power (and perhaps has not sat down comfortably yet?).

    The main problem here I see is that since everyone convinced themselves that Aquino is a good person, we do not need legislation such as, the FOIA, the Anti-Dynasty, Electoral finance reforms at all. This mindset will definitely slow us down another six years to make reforms that are badly needed in our country.

    The FOIA is one glaring solution against corruption, the main topic of Aquino’s Presidential campaign, yet he seems mute in sharing his opinion about it. As you say, he is prone to bark but not bite! Worse though is how our mass media seems to delight in his bark but doesn’t care much to follow on his bite.

  6. FOIA is anti-pinoy.

    Government officials don’t want to let go of their “right” without giving up a fierce fight.

    The “right” to do hideous acts while letting the people continually accept with firm belief that people seated in power have this sordid “right”.

  7. So in the end even the 40% whom will try sway us with their We toldja sou will still look like idiots since they also have the opportunity to pass a more foolproof bill than the watered down version their president-to-be favors.

  8. The only solution I’ve heard from Noynoy in fighting corruption is going after GMA and the whole corrupt entourage and put them in jail. While this may gratify many anti-Arroyos and many Filipinos brainwashed by the media, this act alone obviously wont get rid of corruption. You need a tough and dedicated leader who will actively tackle the disease by implementing effective transparency programs and by, of course, leading by good example. It’s also very important that this person is strong and consistent with his goal so that everyone will undoubtedly believe that this president will not tolerate dishonesty in his administration. When you have that, it will be easy to have your people follow, support and respect the leader. Noynoy, however, does not possess these qualities. He’s not strong and he’s not consistent. His plans do not seem effective and plausible, they are laughable. Looking at Noynoy, how in the world are you gonna take this man seriously?! The man is a joke. I just can’t imagine how difficult it will be for Binay who is a much experienced and knowledgeable man to be under this incompetent, single-degree holder weakling with no feasible plan in fighting corruption.

    He mentioned he will lead by good example to eradicate corruption. Is he implying that if he is well-known as an anti-corrupt president, everyone else in the bottom will simply follow? He wasn’t able convince the rest of the senate to pass any of the few bills he created, how is gonna convince people in the government from top to bottom who have been there for so long to stop doing their old corrupt ways? He’s just not convincing for those who actually use their heads and know the system more than he does. He needs a better strategy of convincing people that he does know what he’s doing. Otherwise, his vacuous decisions will just lead to his losing people’s respect and eventually control of his administration. And once again, Philippines will be in complete chaos.

  9. The way I see it, he is going against the notorious acts of his predecessor.

    1. Expensive travels – he wont travel
    2. Expensive buffet – he wont allow parade
    3. Midnight appointments – he wont honor

    If FOIA bill writers this ages ago, they should have spent riding on Noynoy to make it appealing to dimwits.

    Noynoy can’t simply stand from the wails of them.

  10. We can’t solve 21st century problems with 20th century thinking.

    Noynoy Aquino’s approach to anti-corruption follows the traditional approach which is centered around the functions of an anti-corruption agency. Technically, this is the job of the Office of the Ombudsman.

    The Offices of the Ombudsman independently monitor the government and all three of its branches. The Ombudsman is also responsible for receiving complaints from citizens, organizations, corporations, etc from the country. The Ombudsman usually prosecutes officials who are allegedly involved in acts of graft and corruption.

    The Offices of the Ombudsman includes the Ombudsman’s own office, along with offices for a team composed of a sheriff, the Ombudsman’s second in command, and 6 other deputies who lead the their respective divisions and/or bureaus.


    Ma. Merceditas Navarro-Gutierrez, Ombudsman
    Orlando C. Casimiro, Over-all Deputy Ombudsman
    Victor C. Fernandez, Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon
    Pelagio S. Apostol, Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas
    Emilio A. Gonzales, Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao
    Humphrey T. Monteroso, Deputy Ombudsman for Military
    Dennis M. Villa-Ignacio, Special Prosecutor<a

    Based on the Ombudsman’s website, the office of the Ombudsman currently has the following Key Results Areas:
    Prosecution and Deterrence
    Prevention and Public Assistance
    Education & Anti-Corruption Promotion
    National Anti-Corruption Progrram of Action (NACPA)
    Linkages with Other Government Agencies

    Each of these KRAs have their respective projects.

    Resources-wise, the Office of the Ombudsman received an allocation of PhP 953,627,000 ($21M at PhP45=1USD) in 2008.

    According to World Bank estimates, some 20% of the government’s annual budget is lost to corruption. Using 2008 figures of PhP 1.227 trillion ($27.2B) and applying the 20% corruption index, we get roughly PhP 245 Billion ($5.4B) lost to corruption.

    Now, to get a sense of whether our anti-corruption talk support the anti-corruption walk, let’s get the proportion of the Ombudsman’s budget versus the funds lost to corruption. As it stands, PhP 0.95B versus PhP 245B shows that the budget of the office of the Ombudsman is only 0.004% of the total funds lost due to corruption. And we think we can make a dent against corruption with that kind of budget? I don’t think so.

    Processing the complaints is just one thing. More important however is access to information that can serve as a prima-facie evidence of wrongdoing by public officials and employees – an FOIA can enable citizens to assist the Ombudsman with documentary evidence.

  11. Exactly, A double standard – one for Arroyo cronies, another for Aquino cronies.

  12. Noynoy was asked to disclose his Pork Barrel disbursements. For example –
    He did not do so.

    With a strong FOIA, Aquino’s Pork Barrel spending can be reviewed – and Aquino can be held accountable.

    Thus the fact that he didn’t disclose his pork barrel before indicates two thing on how the FOIA will play out:

    1- Die a natural death
    2 – Become watered-down

    The implication is unless citizens agitate for the passing of the FOIA in a sustained manner, the FOIA will become a non-issue and citizens only have themselves to blame.

    For the citizens who don’t want to wait until the next election cycle – and wait for an eternity ad nauseam, the next available option is via citizen’s initiative.

  13. Noy’s just being a dong if all he can say to fight corruption is “BURN GMA!” Why? In a system such as this, for every GMA we flay, care to guess how many more GMAs are waiting for their time to shine? Call it ten, all worse than the original.

  14. […] 7. FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) […]

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