FOI bill needs Palace push, says proponent
Getting the freedom of information (FOI) bill through its second reading would require a push from Malacañang and House of Representatives leaders, since many lawmakers are expected to be preoccupied with the 2013 polls in the coming months, according to one of the bill’s proponents.
Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello said he was “cautiously optimistic” the bill would finally be voted on and approved at the public information committee level given the number of lawmakers who publicly declared their support for it, and also because Speaker Feliciano Belmonte himself publicly vowed to ensure the stalled bill would be set for hearing.
But Bello acknowledged that despite statements of support from at least 117 lawmakers, things would not be so easy.
A push from Malacañang as well as House leaders would be needed so that lawmakers would be goaded into attending sessions and ensuring that the bill would be put to a vote on second and possibly third reading before Congress adjourns for the campaign season, he said.
He noted that Malacañang played a big role when the House voted to end the contentious period of debates on the reproductive health (RH) bill.
On the day the House decided to end the interpellations on the RH measure, President Aquino called lawmakers to a meeting to explain his stand on the bill and to urge them to terminate the debates. They later did. But the House has yet to vote on the RH bill on second reading.
So far, Bello said, he hasn’t seen the same kind of commitment from Malacañang for the FOI bill. Leila B. Salaverria
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