FOI bill faces further delayBy Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Even with the reported snowballing support for the freedom of information (FOI) bill, the contentious points of the measure should first be resolved in caucus before a vote is taken, according to the chairman of the House committee on public information.
Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone said House leaders were expected to tackle in caucus the inclusion of a right of reply clause in the FOI bill, as well as safeguards to prevent abuse of the measure.
Evardone said he would rather have these issues resolved before taking any further action on the bill so that it would not be mired in debate.
“Once we have agreed in caucus, it would hasten the process because that would be the collective stand. Otherwise, we would just keep debating the matter,” he said in a phone interview.
The caucus would be scheduled after the House tackles the controversial reproductive health bill tomorrow, he said.
The bill seeks to provide the public with greater access to government records and to ensure transparency in government transactions in order to battle corruption and promote good governance.
Akbayan party-list Representative Walden Bello said in a statement that 117 lawmakers had affixed their signatures to the measure.
“All of us are united in the belief that transparency and accountability would only be institutionalized if there is a law that prioritizes the people’s right to unimpeded access to government information,” Bello said.
He said the numerous signatures debunk claims that the bill had little support in the House.