House to resume info bill discussions in OctoberBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines—Discussions on the controversial Freedom of Information Bill will resume by October, lawmakers confirmed on Friday.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone said that deliberation on the FOI Bill would resume once the House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading the P2.006 trillion national budget for 2013.
Lawmakers are set to pass House Bill 6455 or the General Appropriations Act of 2013 by October 15. The lower chamber went on recess and will resume session by October 8.
Evardone, chairperson of the House committee on public information, said that although there was no fixed date yet on when he would call a meeting in October but said that it would be “after the approval of the budget on third reading.”
“I’ll also ask the leadership if we will push through with the caucus. But we will definitely call a committee hearing,” he said, adding that the reason why he earlier scheduled the resumption of hearings on November was because he thought that lawmakers would still be deliberating on the national budget in October.
Belmonte said that he spoke to Evardone about calling the hearing within the week of October 15.
This development has increased the bill’s principal author Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III’s hopes that it would finally be able to hurdle committee-level deliberations and reach the plenary. He is pushing for hearings on either October 9 or 10 but feels positive about the proposed measure if it leaves the committee before lawmakers go on their All Saints’ Day break.
The National Press Club, led by its president Benny Antiporda on Thursday said that they also sought out Belmonte to urge that talks on the FOI Bill be resumed by October.