FOI bill hurdles House panel

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Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—After two years, the freedom of information (FOI) bill has finally managed to get past the committee level in the House of Representatives and without the controversial right-of-reply provision.

The House committee on public information voted 17-3 (with one abstention) to pass the bill that seeks to lift the shroud of secrecy over government dealings and give the public greater access to official data.

Public information committee chair Ben Evardone, who is expected to defend the bill in the plenary, said he would send the committee report to the floor next week.

Evardone said it would then be up to the rules committee to schedule it for floor deliberations.

The FOI bill’s proponents, while jubilant, said the measure would still have to hurdle proceedings in the plenary, where it would be put to a vote on second and third reading.

Railroaded

Opponents of the bill complained the measure was “railroaded” because its contentious provisions, such as the right of reply and its definition of national security issues, were not sufficiently discussed.

Proponents of the right of reply provision, which demands that media give politicians and others free space to reply to criticism against them, said they could still try to include their proposal when the bill enters the period of amendments.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino defended the scrapping of the right to reply measure: “The FOI is not about the media, it’s about the right of the public to information. Information is their right. We should not meddle with what the public would do with the information … If media abuses this right, we have libel laws.”

Optimistic

The House has 10 session days remaining this year and will adjourn early in February next year for the midterm elections. But supporters of the measure were optimistic that there was still time to approve the measure on final reading.

The FOI bill adopts a policy of full public disclosure of government transactions, subject to certain limitations such as those relating to national security and defense.

Also among the exceptions to easy access were the ones suggested by Malacañang, including official records of opinions expressed during decision-making or policy-formulation meetings that are invoked by the President to be privileged, and data related to law enforcement and defense.

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  • Maldi2

    Hope this will not go to the sidelines.  Am sure, ngayon pa lang gapangan na para di makarating sa bicam ang bill na ito.

  • ApoLapullapu

    I do not know how the use of public information can be abused.  Most of the misunderstanding between public figures and the public especially media stem from misinformation due to lack of information.  Sometimes, Media get information from secondary sources because the public documents are hidden from public view. Once public information is accessible commentaries would be based on issues and merits rather than personal attacks.

  • randyaltarejos

    Why would invoke or insist on the right to reply when the main issue of the FOI bill is to benefit public interests? Agi daw mano Ben maupay na la kay imo gin pasa ito nga FOI bill. Otherwise, it may have gathered dusts in the shelves of Congress.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EDXEVEFHW2ZT5VWHDWBNM6XGE4 RyanE

    Good news! Now concentrate on and pass the RH bill!

  • $14334231

    pakitang tao lang ito dahil malapit na ang eleksyon..this will not become a law before next year’s election….this came about ONLY because they need the votes of those they can fool….which is a LOT of them!!!!…….the “paid” journalists will see to it that their write ups of these re-electionists are juicier than the real truth……it’s the sad fact of our politics and to some of our thick-faced journalists…..

  • superpilipinas

    Law enforcement and national defense should not be totally exempt. There should be some exceptions and those exceptions should be well defined. The exemptions are usually abused and used as a loophole.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E3CE56OQVPC4RPYD2NR4VD3SUE Bert

    FOI Bill is one good measure of PNOY’s SINCERITY of his TUWID NA DAAN slogan, otherwise, it’s just mere slogan. Hope he won’t DISAPPOINT his bosses.

    • disqusted0fu

      right! hopefully this bill gets passed asap. i cant wait to find out undisclosed information about the sin tax bill, the cct program and most important of all, the mental condition of our president!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QZZKXPEA67I7HELEIYM35QVYFA Jon

    To see this become law is to believe…

  • jga94

    Who voted against the bill?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ESITQDTPEFTQAQ3JMNMCAOLXQ4 “TwiNex”

    Public information committee chair Ben Evardone?!!! Are you sure? Naku po bakit ito pa ang ginawa niyo na humawak ng FOI Bill na yan. Madaming tinatago yan kaya impossibly na isulong niya yan. Eh d parang naglagay siya ng bitag sa harap niya. Mr. Ben “tong” umayos ayos ka na wala na yung diwendeng kakampi mo,,, parehas lang kayo ni Libanan… May araw din kayo…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ESITQDTPEFTQAQ3JMNMCAOLXQ4 “TwiNex”

    Wala akong tiwala sa Ben “tong” na yan. I suggest na i-review yan ng maayos kasi I’m sure, sa dami ng itinatago ni Ben “tong,” malamang sa malamang ay may butas ang FOI na yan. Syempre, hindi niya lalagyan ng bitag ang sarili niya. Naku Ben-tong umayos ayos ka po kasi baka magsama kayo ng diwende mong kaibgian ng nangagaw ng pwesto sa palasyo…

  • kilabot

    this is the end of it.
    noykapon does not want foi, period. kaya nga tinanggal si erintanada sa senatorial candidates dahil sa foi na yan. some people just can’t recognize a clue.

  • disqusted0fu

    2 years in the making and its still not done? does that mean it will take another 2 years before it gets to the next level? how are we going to know if the straight path is really straight then?

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