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.
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?