FOI proponents in House withdraw as bill’s authors


Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño said in a press conference the inclusion of executive privilege as an exception has very broad parameters, especially when it comes to classifying data as sensitive.

Another challenge emerged on Monday for the freedom of information (FOI) bill, which has a narrow eight-day window to get through final reading in the House of Representatives.

Militant lawmakers on Monday said they would withdraw their coauthorship of the FOI bill in the House, noting that the latest version would impose more restrictions than propagate transparency and accountability in the government.

Seven members of the Makabayan coalition warned that the substitute bill currently pending in the House incorporates proposed exemptions to full disclosure put forth by Malacañang, which would dilute the essence of the measure that is intended to make the workings of public officials transparent to the people.

Among the contested exceptions are those pertaining to matters to be invoked as executive privilege and internal or external defense or law enforcement matters.

The House is expected to tackle the FOI bill Tuesday, giving it only eight session days to be discussed and voted on until Congress adjourns for the campaign period. Disappointed supporters of the bill walked out of the plenary yesterday when they learned it was not in the order of business.

The Senate has already passed its version of the bill.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño said in a press conference the inclusion of executive privilege as an exception has very broad parameters, especially when it comes to classifying data as sensitive. It could just be dependent on the personal preference of the Chief Executive, he said.

“We know that during the time of (former President) Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, executive privilege was used to hide pieces of evidence on the NBN-ZTE contract,” he said, referring to the scuttled National Broadband Network deal with China that was later found to be overpriced.

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said exceptions for law enforcement operations could be also used to cover many police activities.

Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan said the bill’s provision giving heads of agencies the discretion to determine if a piece of information should be kept secret could prove restrictive especially if the official would choose to be cautious.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares also warned that the many exceptions would just allow many government officials to find a way out of disclosing important public matters.

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  • koolkid_inthehouse

    Then make a provision that the executive privilege and police or enforcement privilege can be unlocked by a majority vote of congress and senate or something to that effect.  

  • where_I_stand

    I salute the dedication of these militant groups. Saludo!
    Expect that Sanlakas or one of its cohorts will sponsor the FOI bill. Epal!

    • ruben_bush

       i am disgusted with their political opportunism. 1st, they flip-flop on the RH Bill voting yes with reservations, then their attack dog the KMU suddenly calls for No to the RH Bill. Now, they abandoned long time allies like Cong. Erin Tanada who has always been consistent in advancing progressive causes.  Now, what’s next?? Maybe they will also back off the anti-epal bill because they have been putting out Casino and Bayan Muna  tarps all along the route of the Black Nazerene.  Funny from militant slogans, now they have epal slogans like ” Viva Senor Nazareno!!!”.  EPAL Talaga!!!

  • Garo Ungaro

    Thats the main problem…FOI Bill is not so transparent at this time….?

  • Loggnat

    Withdrawing as coauthors is the same as quitting the fight for an acceptable FOI Bill. It also takes you out of the discussion and the position to influence to opposed proposed exemption that will emasculate and water down the effectiveness of the FOI bill. Quitters are admitting that they are helpless and cannot win, another word for Losers. The people of the country expects more from the feisty Left leaning opposition. Never let them or take you out of the ‘Game” of politics and influence. Just my opinion. 

    • ruben_bush

       Truth is they do not want the FOI. They would not want transparency as to where they put their “pork barrel”— sa projects ba ng sector??? or sa mas malaking project ng CPP-NPA -that is to the armed struggle to put up a Pol Pot or Stalinist dictatorship led by Joma Sison and his minions like Teddy Casino.

  • speaksoftlylove

    I got it. FOI bill is “For Official’s Interests.”

    Good job, Speaker Belmonte.

  • tata_boy

    Pnoy nasaan na ang pangako mo tungkol sa FOI bill? Sa mga mambabatas mas importante ba ang kasambahay kaysa sa FOI bill? Nakita na ni Juan de la Cruz na ang mga mambabatas ay walang ginawa kundi mangurakot sa kaban ng bayan. Walang masama kung ang mga mambabatas ang tatanggap ng bilyon-bilyon, ito ba ang dahilan kung bakit kayo nagpapakamatay na mahalal sa puwesto? May mga kunsyensiya pa ba kayo? Talaga yatang puro kayo mga walanghiya. Bakit kayo may pork barrel gayong may DSWD at DPWH na?

  • RyanE

    With all the restrictions and limitations mentioned, the proposed FOI bill will become a useless piece of legislation. 

    If an acceptable FOI bill will not be passed on this Congress, then this might have a big impact on PNoy’s credibility and the chances of his LP candidates to win this coming elections.

    Pass a credible FOI bill now!

  • Magsasaka

    lahat ng batas dito ginagawan ng paraan para laging pumabor sa mga magnanakaw, kaya nga freedom of information eh para lahat ng public transaction ay open sa public 

  • Marshall

    NPA salot ng bayan..Casinong komunista Espiya ng China….

  • 444mangyan888

    Executive privileges and law enforcement matters. These are concerns that cover gov’t functions which may have something to do with national security issues…!!!!
    And we want to open them for all to digest and play with..???  The communists must be salivating in excitement..!!!1
    We already have impeachment and legislative investigations, they are more than enough to make sure the public will get the information it wants…!!!

  • billy gunner

    and Penoy says he hates corruption! lol

    • Garo Ungaro

      When the present leadership can’t do anything with FOI bill because of politics
      then maybe he can use the executive order to make CORRUPTION his number
      one enemy…set an example…then execute it…no ifs or but….

      • Benito Juarez


  • kalikasanipagtanggol

    No compromise at walang exceptions kung gusto talaga nila ng transparency!

  • superpilipinas

    Aquino is corrupt. He does not want transparency.

    He would do anything for RH but he does nothing for FOI which whill benefit the country and most of Pinoys.

    He would give pork barrels to congressmen for RH but he will not lift a finger for FOI.

    I just hope Filipinos in Davos protest.

  • regd

    We need the FOI law but it must be balance. One that protects individual rights as well as the country’s right to invoke executive privilege which if release may be harmful or detrimental to our national security. 

    What good is the FOI if it means giving our enemies all the information they need and run this country? If we go nuclear for example and give access to the terrorist, would that qualify as FOI? PURE RUBBISH!

  • tiriring

    Oh, your skirt is so transparent huh!  Very SEXY huh… Where did you buy that?
    Well, in the Philippines.  I’m wearing this because I want our government to be like me.  NOTHING TO HIDE!!

  • disqusted0fu

    Perhaps releasing or restraining pork barrel again comes into play here. Its just worrisome that the self proclaimed good and transparent governance of Pnoy does not seem to support this bill that will legitimize their claims. What do they have to hide?

    Plus, this was a bill that Pnoy promised to support during his campaign in 2010. But instead he prioritized superfluous and risky bills first. What was that promise for then if he is going to break it anyway? That alone says something about the true color of this administration.

  • shane oy

    Do you people really want teddy casino to know that there is a planned attack against his communist allies? Do you want secret operations against money launderers be made public or do you want China to know the whole plan of action of the government over the disputed islands?

    ito ay ilan lamang sa mga kadahilanan kung bakit hindi lahat ay pwedeng open or accessible sa kahit kanino man. 

    what should be made accessible to the public is how our politicians spend their pork barrel funds… counting cents by cents. this is all I want to be accessible – the money spent by every public office.

    Noong una kasi yung mga kongresista may mga iskolarship kuno na pinamimigay sa mga mahihirap na constituents nila.  Pero kung titingnan mo sa actual yung mga nabibigyan nila ay di naman mahihirap talaga kundi mga kakampi nila sa pulitka. maliit na halimbawa lamang ito. You are free to think of anything kung saan pinaggagastos ng kongresista mo ang pork barrel nya… maaaring doon sa 4×4 meter waiting shed na nagkakahalaga kuno ng 500,000.00 lol

  • Noel

    tama kana ted…alam na namin yung propaganda mo…

  • magiting78

    Tama n ka Ted Cashino another propaganda mo…gusto nyo alam lahat ng info s gobyerno para alam nyo pano guguluhin mga utak komunista…

  • wakats

    A bad day indeed for the members of the Fourth Estate and to the public as well.  Executive privilege has been abused by gma to hide from the public suspicious transactions that involved hundreds of millions of dollars.  Its retention/inclusion in the present FOI bill will nullify all efforts to make government transactions transparent and accessible.

    Moreover, the supreme court postponed until next week the hearing on oral arguments for the TROed cybercrime law now under petitions to remove the libel provisions secretly inserted by sottocopier at the last minute, allegedly with the blessings of the palace.

  • Harry

    Malacanang, an executive branch, is not supposed to meddle in the law-making activities of the Congress. It is clear by now that this government wants no transparency in all its operations.

  • Stolz_lam

    Of course the administration would delve it’s hands into something that will allow access to information that could potentially be harmful or revealing of his allies and the officials in his administration. 

    The administration anchors its anti-corruption platform on prosecuting the past administration, especially former president and incumbent Congresswoman Gloria Arroyo. Pnoy and palace spokespersons repeatedly accuse her of corruption, and project their government as upright crusaders against graft.
    Assessing the administration’s anti-graft efforts must therefore look at the validity of its cases against Arroyo, who has said that she has been unjustly maligned by the regime to mask its own failings, including the refusal to hold its own officials accountable.

  • darewin

    Dafuq? And Pnoy’s campaign always talked about transparency yet he refused to mark the FOI Bill as urgent and now stupid amendments were made that completely ruin the bill’s purpose?

  • Almighty Creator

    brilliant move by the makabayan bloc. huwag pagamit sa gobyerno to validate their toothless FOI.  the government wants an illusion of transparency. wag paloko kay noynoy

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