THE CLOCK is ticking fast, and the Senators are now facing judgment: Are they champions of the people’s right to know?
The Senators have only 23 session days left before they adjourn for the May 2010 elections to pass their version of the Freedom of Information Act, a law that has been promised 22 years ago by the 1987 Constitution.
As well, over the last eight years, a broad coalition of independent media and civil society groups has waged a relentless campaign to pass the law to help combat corruption, enforce government accountability, and empower the people.
WHAT floats and can carry a load a hundred times its weight?
If you live in Pasig City, that would be anything that has buoyancy and can be glued, nailed, or tied together, including flood-ruined freezers or laundry machines, and even discarded bath tubs. These days, all these and more are being used to ferry people and goods from one watery point to another in what is still among the most flooded areas in the metropolis.
Twenty years ago, we set up the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism in a small office borrowed from friends. All we had were a second-hand electric typewriter, a battered DOS-based computer, and desks and chairs bought from a thrift shop. We didn’t even have a telephone or a fax machine. We had no salaries either – that came later.
In 1989, we were young and foolish. We didn’t know how long we would last or whether we would succeed. Twenty years later I can say that we lasted and that we succeeded in many of our efforts.
MA. THERESA Briones thinks it’s bad enough that her father had to spend five years in jail – including two years with hardened criminals – because something he wrote offended someone. But now five libel cases are again hovering over her father’s head, and 22-year-old Theresa can’t help but cry.
BENIGNO SIMEON ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III has become the third member of his immediate family to be thrust into the vortex of what a sociologist calls periodic episodes of “romanticism” in Philippine politics and history.
But the real burden of the senator and now presidential aspirant is not just proving his sincerity and integrity. He also has to declare what he stands for, and on his own merits and in his words, convince a public awash in goodwill for the Aquinos that he is a worthy son to his parents, and a worthy candidate to the highest post in the country.
BEFORE the August 5, 2009 funeral of his mother, there was no public clamor for Senator Noynoy Aquino to run for president in 2010. Neither was there any reason for his youngest sister, popular television personality Kris Aquino, to discuss his love life on national television after its details leaked out in different broadsheets and gossip rags.
THEY HAVE always been known to be wealthy, but few are aware that the charity cup of the Arroyo clan also runneth over – at least on paper.
Even as they enjoy access to pork and public funds to dispense with charity work, members of the First Family, as well as an assortment of relatives and friends who hold positions in government, have built up quite a collection of foundations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with aims ranging from promoting “punctuality” to securing loans from government institutions.
STA. CRUZ, ZAMBALES – For nearly two years now, Leonardo Lustria Jr., manager of the Sta. Cruz water district, has been at his wit’s end trying to find ways to protect the town’s watershed, which feeds Sta. Cruz’s two irrigation systems and provides local folk with potable water.
Some 20 kms from the town proper, the Sta. Cruz watershed was also reforested more than a decade ago through an P18.1-million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) project, which called for the planting of mahogany, acacia, agoho, eucalyptus, and other types of trees, was carried out from 1994 to 1999.
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