Akbayan pushes for the passage of FoI bill deemed as “mother-of-all waivers”

We, Akbayan Representatives Walden Bello and Kaka Bag-ao express our willingness to sign waivers to open our bank accounts to the public in the spirit of truth, justice and accountability. While we strongly believe that the waiver integrated in the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) is more than enough to comply with the public’s call for full disclosure of government officials, we express our readiness to sign a separate waiver to show that we are one with the Filipino people in holding their public officials to a higher standard of integrity. We do this to reaffirm our commitment to truth and accountability unlike former Chief Justice Renato Corona who used this as a defensive ploy to escape public scrutiny and conviction.

Corona, no patron saint of transparency

Recently, Corona and her detained patron, Gloria Macagapal Arroyo together with their incorrigible allies have exploited this campaign in order to reinvent themselves as “anti-corruption champions.” We reiterate, Corona is not the patron saint of transparency, the same way that he is not a champion of agrarian reform. Corona and Arroyo have no moral ascendancy to call for utmost transparency and accountability when they themselves are its anathema. Lest we forget, the impeachment court convicted Corona for obvious inconsistencies between his real wealth and his SALN while Arroyo is now detained and facing numerous criminal cases, including plunder stemming from her nine-year reign. 

Beyond doubt, despite their efforts to exploit the people’s anti-corruption campaign, Corona and Arroyo failed to wash away their crimes. On the contrary, with their recognition of the people’s right to a more transparent government, they have now effectively accepted their fate rendered to them by the people. Akbayan together with the Filipino people will see to it that complete justice will be exacted from Arroyo and her cronies.

Act of signing waivers does not immediately prove that one is clean

However, we would like to caution the public that the act of signing waivers does not immediately prove that one is clean. Proof must also come from what the bank records will reveal. Likewise, the track record of the said signatories must not be discounted from the overall equation. It is not enough that people sign waivers left and right when these same people were silent during our recent, corrupt past.

Here is where the hypocrisy of Corona, Arroyo and their allies are exposed. During the nine-year reign of the illegitimate Arroyo regime, we saw how Corona and Arroyo’s cronies remained silent on issues of large-scale corruption, election rigging and blatant abuse of power. Worse, some even defended the transgressions of the Arroyo regime, the same transgressions they now suddenly claim to oppose. The people must not let themselves be deceived. The people’s anti-corruption campaign must not be hijacked by the forces of corruption. 

FOI Bill, Mother-of-all Waivers

As such, we call on our fellow lawmakers to immediately pass the Freedom of Information (FoI) Bill in Congress. The FoI bill would serve as the “mother-of-all-waivers” that would silence any opposition to the Filipino people’s campaign for truth, justice and accountability. Akbayan believes the FOI bill will usher in a new era in the people’s effort to weed out systemic corruption.

We also call on Congress to pass Akbayan’s House Bill No. 2826 or the “Silip SALN” bill to allow the public access to the statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth of public officials.

Lastly, we urge the Filipino people to rally behind Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. Her efforts in acting as our tanodbayan against corruption are a welcome respite after years of impunity and ineptitude. We also urge the people to strengthen their anti-corruption efforts while at the same time exercising discernment in these challenging times. We cannot afford to be deceived yet again by forces of corruption at a time when the implementation of reforms is at a critical juncture. ###