FOI, Corruption and the National Interest

It is the time of great debates, on issues affecting or country – from use of our natural resources, like mining; to reproductive health; and freedom of information act. Perhaps it would seem to others that it, the Freedom of Information Act, may not be as important as the rest. But then again it is important to note that the purpose of the FOI is allow rhe citizens of the Philippine Republic to see where their tax money goes to. It is not only the duty of media to watch: to guard against corruption but also the rest of us. In that sense it is important: The Freedom of Information Act makes us all guardians against corruption and decay of our Republic. remember it is our Republic, our country and ot only theirs.

The Plight of the FOI Bill law reminds me of two stories.

THE THREE BROTHERS OR WHERE DO OUR TAXES GO?

Once upon a time there were three brothers; Jun-Jun, Jojo and Jeje. Jun-Jun worked for a company in Makati; Jojo was a businessman and Je-Je was a Comgressman. The Brothers has dinner at their Mother’s house. Here they would enjoy each other’s company while sharing a dinner of kare-kare, crispty pata , rice and of course a crate of Pale Pilsen from San Miguel Beer.

Now at one point of the topic of conversation drifted to money. .

“You know every payday I get stressed out.” Jun-Jun said and continued, ” … Because although I work from Monday to Friday, Nine to five, and almost without fail i feel sad because of the tax, which is big enough to support another person. i can just imagine how the junior workers in the company feels.”

Jeje the. Congressman said,” Brother,There are only two certain things in lfe …. Death and taxes.”

Jojo the Businessman cried out next, “Brothers, I too am Stressed out whenever the Taxman comes to collect. But if Ido ot pay what I owe to the Government I might pay more or even land n jail.

Jojo the Congressman, who loved to quote stuff,said, “Give unto Caesar what is due Caesar.”

Jun-Jun the Employee said, ” the worst thing of all you do not know where our taxes went.”

“Did it go the roads with the initial of the Mayor?”

“Or did it go somewhere else?”

“We do not know.”

“i remember they used it to buy several million pesos worth of Turon.”

“And pay the salary of Ghosts.”

“Yes”

“What do you have yo say Brother?”

Jeje the Congressman said,” Well to be honest … i am doing fine right now.”

An uneasy silence descended upon the Brothers.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT AND THE NATIONAL INTEREST

If you are as old as me or older you might remember the political comedy show from the United Kingdom. And Yes Minister, if it were a sword, would be rapier made of Damascus Steel or Toledo Salamanca, reliable, accurate and deadly.

Now two senior civil servants were talking. One was about to retire and the other was his successor. And the discussion went to the proposed Freedom of Informatiom Act.

“Did I tell you yet? I am going to join the movement for Freedom of Information.”

“What?”

“Why ?”

“Simple, First this Freedom of Information is popular with the Opposition and today’s Opposition is tomorrow’s Government:and Second, if one is there one can, one way or another that this particular freedom is not abused.”

“Freedom of Information whenever it is in our … The nations
Interest”

the older one raised his glass and offered a toast:

“To Freedom of Information”

“To the National Interest”

“”May they never separate paths.”

“Amen”

Both of them started to chuckle that broke out into a cascade of laughter.

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