Senate OKs freedom of information bill


“The Philippines is a democratic and republican state. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government emanates from them. If we are serious about the sustainable development of our democracy as we are about our economy, transparency and open government must be at its core,” said Sen. Gregorio Honasan, one of the sponsors of the bill. INQUIRER/RICHARD REYES

The freedom of information (FOI) bill has hurdled its last obstacle in the Senate and was passed Monday on third and final reading.

The passage of Senate Bill No. 3208, also known as the People’s Ownership of Government Information or Pogi Bill, allows the government to adopt a policy of full public disclosure of transactions involving the public interest, except for information relating to national security and defense that may imperil the country.

The measure was passed on third and final reading with 17 votes for, none against, and no abstentions.

In the House of Representatives, the debates on the FOI bill could begin Tuesday, after the sponsorship speech of Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone who said that the other coauthors may opt to deliver speeches before interpellations could start.

Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada, a main proponent of the measure,  said he hoped President Aquino would certify the bill as urgent and that the House would show the same political will as the Senate and pass the bill soon.

The Pogi Bill provides mechanisms for the mandatory disclosure of government information, both automatic and upon request, and penalties for denying such information without due cause.

The bill provides that information on projects, transactions, documents and records pertaining to the public interest be made public by being posted on government websites, and preferably translated into major Filipino dialects for easier comprehension.

15-day period

The measure  provides that government agencies grant access to information within 15 days after receiving a request for it.  Government agencies must also explain before the courts why it would not release requested information.

Aside from matters of national security, also exempt from mandatory disclosure are information pertaining to foreign policy, records of minutes, advice or opinions expressed during decision-making or policy formulation proceedings of all branches of government, and requests for personal information on natural persons, unless they consent in writing to the disclosure.

“The Philippines is a democratic and republican state. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government emanates from them. If we are serious about the sustainable development of our democracy as we are about our economy, transparency and open government must be at its core,” said Sen. Gregorio Honasan, one of the sponsors of the bill.  His cosponsors were Senators Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes IV and Franklin Drilon.

RH bill took precedence

The House was unable to tackle the bill yesterday because of its third reading vote on the reproductive health (RH) bill.

Tañada hoped the President would give a speech endorsing the measure as urgent, especially since it had been incorporated with suggestions from the Palace.

As to whether the FOI bill could be put to a second reading vote in the House soon, Evardone said it would depend on how many lawmakers challenged it or proposed amendments.

Tañada earlier said that with several lawmakers vowing to introduce controversial amendments, such as a right of reply provision, the earliest the bill could be put to a second reading vote would be when Congress resumes session in January.

The last session day for Congress this year is Wednesday.

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  • KapitanBagwis

    Good job !!

  • Josemakabayan

    Good job, all the most important bills are passed or will be passed soon, I hope next in line will be the enabling act for the anti political dynasty law ???? Kudos should likewise be extended to netizens, whose vigilance prodded our elected leaders to pass such important bills !!!!! Keep up the good work guys!!!!!

    • Htee

      Yes, politicians now a days can’t afford not to listen to netizens…
      Those who still dont bother to read blogs,…they’re out of touch and soon to fade away.

    • $20733759

      The anti-dynasty law may well be the biggest and longest feather in PNoy’s cap! It will be a long and difficult struggle, but hope ,they say, springs eternal , lalo na sa pinakikita ngayon ng mga masigasig na mambabatas.

  • The Overlord

    Wow! Congress peeps are actually working this time ha, hahaha! First was the Sin Tax Bill, then RH, then the FOI. Sana naman this momentum of passing landmark bills can be sustained.

  • Garo Ungaro

    Finally…the lawmakers makes some very important sense into this FOI bill. This gives the people, the nation much needed informations in terms of what is going on? it can be done as seen by this good example shown by the lawmakers that they can achieve something without the personal interest and put the people, the nation first…now…for once, the lawmakers salaries was worth it…paid for by the people…and will benefit the people as it should…not the few personal interest of some of the lawmakers that should not even be there in the first place…the majority was on the right track on this very important bills…thank you, from the people and the nation…we hope that it will bring much need boost to our progress..and a bright future….

    • JayDeeYo

      Well said. Im sure most of our kababayans are glad that our leaders are active this year and this means a better future for us.

  • $14334231

    watch out for the loopholes!!!!……

  • Chris

    Salamat, nakagawa sila ng bill na makakatulong sa lahat, Sana ma pirmahan na ni Pnoy to. Dito na maguumpisa yung ‘tuwid na daan’ na hinihintay natin. Kudos!

  • rsanr

    I am sure that PNoy will certify this FOI bill as urgent the way he did for the RH bill, God bless the Philippines and forward we all go! 

  • aristeosj

    This would be the best New Year’s gift for the Filipinos!!!
    Huwag sanang ningas-cogon!!!

  • JayDeeYo

    I’m glad that our leaders are doing very useful things for our country lately and I hopemaging consistent sila dito. Unti2 na akong naiimpress sa ginagwa nila. Una sa RH BIll tas Sin tax and then ito. Good job din kay honasan at lalo kay sen legarda. dami  niya ginagawa din ng nakaraan and bilib ako.

    • $20733759

      Mawala lang sana ang mga talamak at walang pagasang magbagong mga TRAPO ( alam naman kung sinu-sino sila) ay may pagasa pa ang ating bayan, sa tulong ng kasalukuyang namumuno na tunay na nagmamalasakit , na makabangon at umunlad. Believe in the Pilipino!

  • Paul

    Bilib nako sa mga politiko natin ngayon ah. Sana laging ganito tayo. Paniguradong gaganda yung progress natin kung mging consistent lang tayo at para masustain natin yung progress na ito pagmatagalan/.

  • Jose

    With this and the RH Bill’s progress, it was a brilliant day for the country.

    Hopefully both are passed, and soon!

    • $20733759

      Brother Jose, sama na rin natin ang “sin tax bill” which we hope will soon become law.

      • Jose

        Honestly, I’m in favor of that too, but not because I think it’ll curb smoking.  Cigarettes are, to use economic terms, pretty inelastic.

        I do favor the law because it will hopefully dissuade new smokers from picking up the habit, and because it evens the playing field, protecting cigarette vendors that have been here longer.  The bill should spur new investment, as can be seen by the entry of British American Tobacco.

      • $20733759

        Im more inclined on the revenue aspect than the deterent side for medical reason. Be that as it may, any reason is a good justification as long as the bill passes into law.

      • Jose

        Yeah, honestly both are good enough reasons to pass it into law for me.

  • suburbanmother

    At last Congress has made significant progress in their work to improve the lives of filipino people.

  • Hey_Dudes

    Now, where are those claiming Benigno Cojuangco Aquino III, since elected president of the country have done nothing except noynoying (whatever that means)? Where are the malcontents who will never be happy because the country is transforming into a vastly different governance compared to the last Khawatan regime that did nothing but pick the pockets of Filipinos?

    • $20733759

      We join you in your well considered  evaluation of our president’s contribution of constant good governance.May we have more years of his effort to bring a new and better Philippines for all , including  those who  do not see things his way. No to corruption, no to political dynasty, no to all abusive ,insensitive politicians and government servants.

  • mekeni62

    very good!!

  • Consumers Power

    Freedom of Information (FOI) could be best deterrence against corruption. Those obstructing its passage are hiding something. Take down their names for easy and convenient decisions in next election. It’s our only way to make even with them.

  • regd

    Christmas is getting better and better and better! What more can people want? AWESOME! 

  • Rinaanir

    Confident ako na maipapasa rin to. Maganda kasi ang political climate ngayon dahil GENERALLY, mataas ang tiwala ng mga Pilipino sa presidente. Sa RH Bill lang. Sa tingin niyo maipapasa yon sa panahon ni Gloria sa kakarampot na suporta mula sa Pilipino? At sa tingin niyo ipagsasapalaran pa niya ang natitirang suporta sa kanya mula sa simbahang katoliko?

  • Rinaanir

    Sorry for the vulgarity but I am f*cking impressed with the political climate in PNoy’s administration. I’m f*cking impressed.

  • disqusted0fu

    ok… some good developments i guess. now that the sin tax and rh bill already passed because of the president certifying them as urgent, its the FOIs turn now. he should certify this as urgent as well since he promised the passing of this bill during his campaign. its been 3 years already but he prioritized those other bills instead of this. i hope there wouldnt be any other distractions that would cause the delay of the passing of this bill.

  • ghe

    Now the ball is in hands of  the Congress. Pass it please.

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