House leaders pressed on FOI billBy Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Advocates of the freedom of information (FOI) bill are calling on the House leadership to ensure that the measure is voted on in the next hearing by allowing the procedures to extend beyond the 4 p.m. deadline, if necessary.
This was after last Tuesday’s hearing of the public information committee was derailed by technical issues. Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, the committee chairman, cut short the proceedings for lack of time as the House plenary session was about to begin.
Under House rules, committee hearings cannot go beyond 4 p.m. so lawmakers can attend plenary sessions, unless allowed by House leaders.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said advocates of the measure must see to it that enough lawmakers attend the next committee hearing so that they can oppose any dilatory tactics and ensure that the bill is finally voted on.
“We got blindsided in the last hearing. It’s inexcusable if it happens again in the next hearing… We must force the vote next time,” Baguilat said.
Party-list member Teodoro Casiño (Bayan Muna) said House leaders should make up their minds if they want the bill or not and prepare for the hearing, like getting the permission from the rules committee for an extension.
Another Bayan Muna member, Neri Colmenares, warned that if the next hearing turns out to be a farce, those in support of the bill may have to resort to drastic action.