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Freedom of Information

Watching live coverage of the Senate investigation of the PCSO mess, the Filipinos get to know that a sitting president can easily do magic with people's money by converting line item allocation in an agency's budget into an intelligence fund and spend the money with impunity, beyond the reach of government auditors.

Kudos to Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairwoman Margie Juico and Director Aleta Tolentino for bringing this to the light of day, including how loto and sweepstakes income could be lost to gifts or even bribes to favored supporters.

We get it, these exposés tell us that the new management of the PCSO under these two gentlewomen does not intend to repeat the shenanigans of their predecessors.

We have to keep the investigative momentum going. But the public should now be more deeply involved because we cannot trust that the likes of Juico and Tolentino abound in other government agencies.

How we wish that all the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has to investigate are the crimes of the Gloria regime and no new ones come out of the P-Noy administration.

This is not entirely impossible. But first, P-Noy should see through the immediate passage of the Freedom of Information Law. It will show that the administration is serious about partnering with people power in fighting graft and corruption.

The more the Aquino administration foot drags on this, the more the Filipinos think that this government shall be no different from Gloria's.

We do not like to see any post-Gloria plunderer getting prosecuted or even jailed. In this country it is hard to run after criminals who have stashed away millions of ill-gotten cash. We like to see potential grafts nipped in the bud before costing any taxpayer money.

We do not like anymore a ZTE-like deal that was scrapped only because a congressman exposed it in a privilege speech. What we like to see now are attempted scams being prevented because ordinary citizens denounced them or after they become trending topics at or after some incriminating certified documents openly available from government sources get widely shared at

It is time to give teeth to the constitutional guarantee of the right to know and the state policy of full disclosure of transactions involving public interest.

The time is ripe for FOI. This year, Internet user count in the Philippines has topped 29 million, an increase of 1385% from year 2000 level of 2 million; 25 million are on Facebook.

That's a formidable watchdog waiting to be tapped!

Tunisia and Egypt fired up the Arab Awakening and made miracles while at roughly the same level of Internet penetration rate as the Philippines.

Bring in genuine freedom of information to complement this and the Philippines might just finally reach the unreachable star - the eradication of graft and corruption.

As unreachable as a Freedom of Information Law?

We shall see.