Juana Change steals show during FOI hearing
MANILA - Political satirist Juana Change added her own brand of sarcastic humor during the hearing of the Freedom of Information bill at the Senate.
The hearing was chaired by Sen. Grace Poe who is the chairperson of the Senate committee on public information and mass media.
Juana Change (real name Mae Paner) said she wanted to share her thoughts as an artist and by pretending to be alleged pork scam mastermind Janet "Bariles" Napoles.
As Napoles, she said she is afraid of what the FOI bill will do to her. "Ako raw kasi ang best example dito sa FOI," she said.
What elicited reaction from the senators was when she said she could name some of the officials who made money just like her from the pork barrel scam.
She said they are also at the hearing.
"Sa totoo lang po kaya kong pangalanan ang mga kasama kong kumita. Nasa kwarto hong ito pero huwag na muna ngayon. Hindi ito ang tamang panahon para mabuking sila."
Although he was not named, this prompted Sen. JV Ejercito to say he was not involved in the scam. "Gusto ko sabihin, wala ho sa amin ang sangkot sa ngayon, bago ho kami."
"Hindi pa po namin natitikman ang pork," added Poe.
There was laughter from the audience, including Senator Sonny Angara who was beside Poe and Ejercito.
The hearing was attended by government agencies, media, NGOs and the academe.
They were asked to submit their position papers and some of them spoke at the hearing.
They were all supportive of the FOI bill but some like the Department of National Defense and the Office of the President raised concerns on making exceptions such as when defense, national security and diplomacy is concerned.
Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning also pointed examples of what should be exceptions from the FOI bill:
executive communications privilege should remain inviolable;
commercial or financial information should be protected if it would prejudice government's ability to transact business;
personal privacy should be protected, among others.
Poe said they are considering the exceptions but some of them must be clearly defined like "personal information."
"Pwede naman sabihin yung pangalan ng mga taong involved. Huwag lang yung pamilya. I think yung National Press Club ni-raise nya, ano ba ang exception sa personal information - pangalan at address."
The penalty for those who will withold information was also raised. "Kung wala kasing responsibility, administrative or penalty, walang insentibo para ibigay ang impormasyon na yan," said Poe.
Sen. Chiz Escudero said there is no problem with the FOI bill in the Senate, "Ang laban ay nasa Mababang Kapulungan. Laging naipapasa ito sa Senado," he said.