Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s speech at the symposium sponsored by the FEU “Y” Club, Institute of Arts and Sciences Student Council, and the Political Science International Studies Society, at the Far Eastern University Auditorium on 27 January 2011.
The Constitution provides: “The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building.” In addition, the Constitution also provides: “Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.” Thus, it is no less than a constitutional mandate, to give young people a vital role in nation- building. To empower young people in our universities to play this vital role, the State should consistently uphold the principle of transparency in governance.
In social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, you have the opportunity to express your opinion in fighting the culture of corruption in our society. And the Constitution protects you by guaranteeing the right to information. You can go to any government office and obtain access to official records. But in today’s society, you do not have to physically go to the government office concerned. You can access its official records on the internet which, together with mobile phones, constitute what are now called the new media.
Our Constitution is unique among the constitutions of the world, because it has a specific provision protecting the right to information, thus: “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, . . . 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.”
With this constitutional background, I urge you as FEU students to study the case of WikiLeaks, winner of the 2009 New Media Award for human rights reporting, from Amnesty International.