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PIA Press Release

Commentary: The people have the right to be informed

Tacloban City (October 9) -- To say that the use of government funds for the information drive on Charter Amendments is unauthorized and improper, is the apex of ignorance or refusal to acknowledge that the right to information is a fundamental human right.

And the inherent right of the people to be informed on matters of vital importance to their future comes hand and hand with the responsibility of the government to keep the people well-informed.

The Philippines has a constitutional guarantee of the right to information, a post-Marcos law that makes it the duty of officials to provide information to the public and a judiciary that has tended to rule in favor of the citizens' right to know, have created a legal atmosphere that makes it easier for both journalists and citizens to assert their right to information.

In addition, a tradition of openness and discussion that has roots in the country's longer experience with democracy and a free press provide for wider access than in most other Southeast Asian countries.

There is nothing wrong with the government information agencies working to disseminate information and educate the people on the true meaning of People's Initiative for Charter Change.

The mandate of the government information agencies calls for providing people with adequate information to help them to make better decisions and identify opportunities that could improve their quality of life. Theirs is the responsibility to disseminate government programs and projects in the countryside.

Charter reform was a promise that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo made in the 2004 presidential elections and she repeatedly explained it to the people, particularly in the various "Pulong Bayan" during the campaign.

In her State of the Nation Address in July of 2005, President Arroyo exclaimed that it is time to debate on charter change, the fulfillment of her campaign promise.

Where then is the impropriety? Leave politicking out of this legitimate and lawful exercise, it is prayed. The people must not be deprived of this chance for genuine political change and economic reforms. For at the end of the day, it will be the people themselves who would decide their fate and that of the nation. (PIA 8) [top]

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