Tañada: FOI bill is ‘gasping for breath,’ already in ‘ICU’
MANILA, Philippines — The Freedom of Information Bill is barely hanging on, its proponent Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III said on Thursday after Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Wednesday said that the bill’s second hearing this year would have to wait until November.
In a text message sent to reporters, the Quezon lawmaker likened the “fixed schedule” on November 13 for talks on the FOI Bill to having it put on life support.
“Representative (Ben) Evardone placed FOI in ICU… in life support, gasping for breath,” said Tañada who said that he was still hoping that Belmonte will allow the proposed measure to be tackled at the plenary immediately after it hurdles discussions at the House committee on public information, of which Evardone is chairperson.
Evardone earlier responded to Tañada ‘s offer of reserving a conference room himself just so that the panel can finally push through with its deliberations on the FOI, saying “he did not coordinate with me.”
But even if chancing upon a schedule for the committee on October 16 lifted Tañada ‘s hopes that the FOI Bill might finally make it out of Evardone’s committee, it was short-lived, as Belmonte said that the November 13 schedule was “a fixed schedule” for the discussions.
“If we pass it on November 13, there is still a chance to beat the December deadline if the Speaker allows it to be discussed immediately at plenary together with RH (Reproductive Health Bill),” Tañada pointed out.
Asked whether he would try to get the 117 legislators who backed the measure last August this year, he said that he would meet with them if Belmonte allows the bill to enter plenary deliberations right after it is passed by the committee.
“But we have to hurdle one obstacle at a time and that obstacle is getting it through the Committee on Public Information,” said Tañada.
“We have to get the patient out of the ICU first before we can even think of bringing him out of the hospital,” he added.
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