The merger of the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI) to the Ministry of Public Function (SFP) as proposed by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, it is legally unfeasible, even if a reform were made, and if would be trampling the rights of citizenship, explained Jacqueline Peschard, who was commissioner of the then Federal Institute for Access to Public Information (IFAI).
« Legally it is something unviable, even if a constitutional reform was made to eliminate the INAI, it would not be possible for the Public Function to absorb its functions because the secretariat is only an agency of the federal government, » he said.
In interview for MILLENNIUM, Peschard explained that even when many attributions were given to the Public Function and the technical staff of the INAI were transferred, It could not comply with them, since it could not be a guarantor body for other powers or for autonomous bodies.
« What would happen would be a reduction in the exercise of the right to access to information and that which the President is very concerned about are the savings in the budget it would not be possible because it would have to take personnel who know how to answer requests for access to information”, He explained.
The also former counselor of the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE / INE) warned as worrying the discomfort of President López Obrador regarding the INAI, as it would indicate an Executive Power with inclinations towards authoritarianism and a regression of 30 years because transparency was an intuitive principle during the transition to democracy.
“Thinking that this will disappear is something like forgetting that the demand for transparency and access to public information has more than three decades and meant social movements and very felt demands of the population and would be to run over a fundamental right of citizens already conquered in our Constitution”.
“What is clear is that the President is uncomfortable with the INAI, that he does not like to be asked questions to the Presidency of the Republic, he does not like that there are organizations that do not depend directly on his command and that is something worrisome because it speaks of a presidential power that has very strong inclinations towards authoritarianism”He warned.
Every day people want to know what the government is doing; rise in requests, the proof
The UNAM academic presented some arguments to demonstrate the usefulness of INAI, one of them is the number of requests for access to information issued by citizens. which have increased during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The year of the pandemic increased in a very sensible way. Normally the INAI received around 120 thousand requests for information, today it receives more than 200 thousand. Every day there are people more interested in knowing and knowing what the government and public entities do ”.
Peschard, who is also an expert in anti-corruption issues, highlighted the importance of INAI for the journalistic and academic union to translate the information, analyze, compare and disseminate said results and thus identify possible diversions of resources, abuse of authority, improper purchases, among others.
Cancellation of credits and Ethylene XX, some of the cases that came to Peschard
Jacqueline Peschard, who was IFAI Councilor from 2009 to 2013, explained that by nature neither governments nor public powers like to be watched: « The powers that be do not like to be under public scrutiny because it reduces their ability to maneuver. »
During his time at IFAI, Peschard recalled, the institute did have the power to operate and manage its resources autonomously without having to be subordinate to a government agency,
Some of the issues he had to address during the IFAI were the cancellation of tax credits in 2010, the Ethylene XXI contract or the San Fernando massacre.
“In 2010, a request was presented on the cancellation of these credits, since what we deliberated was whether this cancellation could overcome the fiscal secrecy that was foreseen in the Fiscal Code and we resolved that there was public interest to whom the payment of taxes had been forgiven « .
The former commissioner recalled the interest that Felipe Calderón’s project caused regarding Ethylene XXI, a plant that processes ethane and whose partners are the Brazilian company Braskem and the Mexican IDESA.
“The information on the contract signed by Pemex was requested and it said that it could not be given because there was a confidentiality agreement and the IFAI plenary analyzed what those contracts consisted of and we found that the amount covered by that contract had to be disclosed, what were the purposes and what was to be produced, « he explained.
Protection of personal data, pending task of the INAI
Peschard explained that one of the INAI’s areas of opportunity is regarding the protection of personal data:
“INAI is well known for its access to information, but you really have a lot to owe us in terms of personal data protection, Citizens have not just clearly identified that we have that right, but the INAI has not just presented itself as a body that effectively guarantees access to our personal data, there the INAI has a duty to us ”.
In another area in which Peschard considers that the INAI still must be the extension of the use of access to information, since not all citizens know the function of the institute and for this he proposes greater dissemination and make it more accessible to people who do not use the information for academic or journalistic purposes.