I did not get to vote for a presidential candidate because I was not satisfied with any of their qualifications. I comforted myself with the thought that no matter who the president and the other leaders will be, I will continue to be vigilant as our country moves through a difficult transition to democratic restoration and economic recovery.
As project editor for Blog Watch, I ensured that our goals are not limited to voters education. We are committed to continue on as a watchdog for good governance beyond election day. I believe that it is time citizens all stood up and do their share . Stand up and be counted. it is an opportunity for us to shout out not only to our leaders for the rest of the world that we have enough and really do want change. It has to be a participative citizenry. We don’t live up to the true meaning of liberal democracy.
There is only one power that can face and surmount the misuse and abuse of the powers of the presidency and that is the power of an aware, vigilant, organized citizenry. It also needs the cooperation of branches of government like the legislature and the judiciary. Checks and balances are already built in the constitution but it has been corrupted time and time again because there are no specific mechanisms of transparency especially for ordinary citizens like you and me in the flow of information.
Transparency is necessary for good governance
A need for intelligent and informed decision must be based on facts. These facts can be available to us if we have access to information about how things are run in government. What’s this basis? What are the contracts. What are the finances?
One of the things that foster corruption is a culture where whistleblowers are given a difficult time by the powers that be. They are harassed, bribed or threatened. It is important to give force to the right of the public to know as guaranteed by the constitution.
Section 7 of the Bill of Rights says:
“The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law”
-Section 7, Article 3, 1987 Constitution
This right is meant to ensure transparency in government. These are just empty words if not given structure and force. We have to give teeth to the constitutional guarantee. Those who violate the right of the people to know should be sanctioned or punished. Corruption breeds in the dark created by the culture of silence.
Involvement of the citizenry in the political process is not limited to elections only. The rut in our system is major. Even if we get the right people elected, we cannot just fold our tarpulin and say “they will change everything”. If citizenry won’t try to know what is happening, nothing will also happen to us. People need to know how things are being run by those in power and if they see something is wrong, they should be able to bring it to light.
Ignorance of how the government works breeds apathy.
It is common saying that knowledge is power. In this instance, it is literally true. Power must be given back to the people by giving them access to information. The Freedom of Information Act (FOI) “turns on” the right given to every Filipino to go to government and get any piece of information for whatever purpose. It is our right to be informed. This legislation is intended to liberate and empower the people.
A participative citizenry have the Right to know. Right now!