No Palace blessing, no smooth sailing for freedom of info bill



Speaker Feliciano Belmonte ARNOLD ALMACEN

Don’t expect an express vote on the Freedom of Information bill (FOI) in the House of Representatives this December.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said the House leadership is not planning to ask President Aquino to certify the FOI bill as urgent like what it did with the reproductive health measure. He said the FOI bill would begin moving in the House in preparation for a possible second reading vote in January.

The Senate has already approved the FOI bill on third and final reading.

Belmonte, who personally supports the FOI bill, said the measure would go through the legislative mill first, as this was what happened with the reproductive health bill.

“As far as we’re concerned we’d like to see [the FOI bill] go into the process first,” he said in a press briefing.

According to him, House leaders only asked Mr. Aquino to certify the reproductive health bill as urgent after the House managed to get it through the lengthy second reading vote, and they did it to ensure that the bill would not be killed on a technicality.

Initially, the President was reluctant to certify the matter and asked the House to try its best to get the bill moving without his intervention, he recalled.

But after the bill was passed on second reading in the House following a five-hour, suspense-filled vote, House leaders sought Mr. Aquino’s certification so that the bill would get moving in the Senate, he said. It did. The Senate approved the reproductive health measure on second and third reading on Monday.

Belmonte also said the House could possibly put the FOI bill to a second reading vote in January, after it resumes sessions following a month-long holiday break.

He said he expected lawmakers to question certain aspects of the bill.

Several lawmakers earlier manifested their intent to introduce amendments to the FOI bill in plenary, and these proposals could be  controversial.

Among the amendments they want is a right of reply provision requiring the media to give equal space to people who are going to be the subject of reports of data gathered through the FOI law, as well as the inclusion of the private sector in the coverage of the measure.

One of the bill’s main proponents, Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III, earlier said he wished the House would show the same political will as the Senate and pass the bill soon.

The FOI bill adopts a government policy of full public disclosure of transactions involving public interest, subject to certain limitations such as information relating to national security and defense, the disclosure of which may imperil the country.

Also among the exceptions were the ones suggested by Malacañang, including official records of minutes and advice given and opinions expressed during decision-making or policy-formulation, invoked by the President to be privileged by reason of sensitivity or impairment of the presidential deliberative process, and data related to national security and defense.

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  • zeroko

    Yawa! Freedom of Information is of paramount important than any bills in the past or in the future. This bill will clip the corruption in the government. Yet, the “August Chamber” alias Den of Thieves keeps on delaying it again, and brand it as not a priority bill. He he he. For thieves in the government, it is but natural that they treat the FOI as lesser than Divorce bill because they are the culprit who waste and steal billions of “people’s money.”

    Belmonte Jr. broke the record, if you know what I mean.

    • Paul

       and there is no money in FOI unlike the one they just have passed.

  • Fulpol

    what do you we expect?

  • zeroko

    According to Belmonte Jr. the bill has to be subjected to deliberation  What he means is before the bill becomes a law, it is already a lame duck, useless, and will not fulfill what it was intended.

    This Congressmen are foot dragging. Sayang ang billions of pesos keeping these Representative in their post. Dapat, dalawa na lang o people’s congress na lang ang mangyayari. The present set up of the Congress does not represent  the people’s will. They are functioning for their greedy objective and self serving, They are not the true representative of the people, primarily because they belong to a different race, CHINESE. And Chinese are known to be corrupt, cheaters, and liars. And this is the reason why our country is still the laggard nation in Asia because we allowed these Chinese to rule us.

    • angelfish1105


  • Paul

    walang pera kasi sa FOI bill. haha

  • Jose

    I support the Aquino administration, but this I do not understand.

    The FoI bill needs to be passed, ideally next January, and it should certainly be labelled urgent.

    • Flow Sotelo

      Ang sinasabi lang ng congress, like what happened with RH bill (which has already laguished in the legislative body for over 13 yrs already), that it needs to check if the details of the law will ensure that its objective is met. Baka ang makinabang sa FOI ay ang mananakop na China o ibang bansa na may economic at geographical interests sa Pilipinas. Baka ma-disadvantaged tayo pag sobrang open tayo sa information.

      • Jose

        The Bill has provisions for that already, and what is holding it up are ridiculous amendments like the Right to Reply stuff.

  • mad_as_Hamlet

    I just hope they don’t think that the FOI bill means “Freedom Of Intercourse” bill and hence already part of the RH bill.

  • Sabian

    Sabi ko na walang itlog ‘tong si Panot e.

  • Sabian

    Pano naman gagawing urgent ni Pnoy ang FOI bill? Edi nahuli ang mga hocus focus ng mga tao niya at mga congressmen na lalong yumayaman sa pork barrell.

  • kapatad

    foi vote now. Nagawa ninyo sa RH Bill, bakit di ninyo magawa sa FOI.

  • ApoLapullapu

    This should have  taken higher priority over the RH Bill for it can prevent graft in the procurement of contraceptives and other things provided under the proposed legislation.l.  But many lawmakers fear the passage of the FOI l might uncover everything that they had been dong on their pork barrels.

  • Sylvester Pitt

    Bale wala naman itong FOI kase ang information naman na makukuha dito ay peke.
    Sino ba nag-declare ng tama na SALN at iba pa? Kahit meron nito wala pa ring mahuhuli.


    No doubt, FOI will become a law in the hands of PNoy.

    • Bert

      Dreaming is free and I am keeping my fingers crossed…..

  • Bert

    Kung may gusto, may paraan.
    Pag ayaw, ang daming dahilan….

  • disqusted0fu

    no Pnoy express on this one? what happened to Aquino’s promise during his campaign that he will support the passing of this bill? the sin tax and RH bill have already passed, and this is still on the second reading? if he interfered with the RH bill, why is he not interfering with this? someone seems to be scared of true transparency

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