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Freeman Region

Senatorial bet Baligod: “FOI bill should be passed”

Ric V. Obedencio - The Freeman

TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines  — Independent senatorial candidate, lawyer Levi Baligod on Wednesday said Congress should pass the freedom of information bill.

Baligod was the lawyer of whistleblower Benhur Luy in the prosecution of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, who masterminded in the Priority Development Assistance Fund, or pork barrel scam, involving top government officials, including three senators and about 40 congressmen.

Napoles is now in detention at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna for an illegal detention case filed by Luy.

Baligod told the Boholanos the people need the FOI because it is a tool in monitoring corrupt government officials and their financial transactions.

Baligod was in this city on Wednesday as guest speaker of the Role of the Community Against Corruption forum held at the Bohol Institute of Technology-International College gym in this city, spearheaded by the Alliance of Concerned Taxpayers, with conveners Engineer Vicente Loquellano and environmentalist Pat Ruiz, among others.

Among those who attended the forum were BIT-IC president Dionesio Balite, Dr. Joahna Cabalit Initay and student leaders under the umbrella of the Bohol Alliance of Student Councils, led by Roel Olaivar of the Northeastern Star College in Ubay town.

Without the FOI, Baligod said it would be difficult for anybody to get copies of documents from agencies concerned, like the Commission on Audit, especially on financial matters of government officials.

Reports have it that the Senate already approved its FOI version but its counterpart bill in the House of Representatives remained unapproved to this day, to the dismay of Baligod, who said he wanted to be in the Senate to continue to fight for this important bill.

Baligod cited the closure by Malacañang of the National Agribusiness Corporation and the Technological Research Centers, subsidiaries of the Department of Agriculture, which he said were among the government agencies that received pork barrel allocations from senators and congressmen. The funds were eventually transferred to NGOs linked to Napoles.

He said he found the closure of NABCOR and TRC as “malicious” because it seemed that the government was trying to “bury the evidences,” after the COA findings showed there were used as conduits of the pork barrel fund.  (FREEMAN)

ALLIANCE OF CONCERNED TAXPAYERS

BALIGOD

BENHUR LUY

BOHOL ALLIANCE OF STUDENT COUNCILS

BOHOL INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY-INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

DIONESIO BALITE

DR. JOAHNA CABALIT INITAY

ENGINEER VICENTE LOQUELLANO

FORT STO

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

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