Freedom of information bill advocates to march to Palace Monday

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MANILA, Philippines—Advocates of the freedom of information (FOI) bill are marching to Malacañang on Monday to press President Aquino to push for the passage of the bill in Congress.

The “Right to Know, Right Now Coalition” will march on Mendiola on Monday afternoon to ask President Aquino to certify the FOI bill as urgent, noting that the measure pending in the House of Representatives already incorporated the Palace’s proposed amendments.

“We believe Malacañang stated its position, supported the bill, endorsed its own amendments and said it wanted debates to happen. We appeal to them to take that commitment one more step,” said Nepomuceno Malaluan, the coalition’s co-convenor, adding that a certification would be the only way debates on the bill’s provisions could start.

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, a co-author of the FOI bill, earlier said that a “miracle” from the President in the form of a certification would be the bill’s best hope for becoming a law.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño, who has withdrawn his authorship of the FOI bill on account of the Palace amendments, also joined calls for a certification as he accused Malacañang of “stalling” the bill’s passage even after its proposed exemptions were put in.

Certification needed

Casiño said the certification was needed so the bill could move forward and he could propose amendments to remove the Palace proposals from the current version of the measure.

He also said that Aquino, who attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, could not boast of good governance given how he has regarded the bill.

“How can President Aquino look world leaders in the eye and say his government is for transparency and accountability but he is the one primarily responsible for watering down the FOI bill?” Casiño said in a statement.

The appeal for certification of the FOI bill is nothing new, but it takes on a more urgent tone now considering the limited window for a final reading passage. Congress only has six session days left, since it will adjourn early for the campaign period for the May elections.

Aquino not keen

The President, however, has not been keen on the idea.

Malaluan said the coalition “exhausted all avenues with respect to the House” to get the bill moving, including appeals and talks with the legislators—but to no avail.

In the three session days that passed last week, the FOI bill did not get a chance to reach the plenary.

The sponsorship of the bill, which would have started the debates on the measure, was not in the order of business last Monday, a day reserved for privilege speeches.

It was included on the agenda Tuesday, but the House suspended the session without the sponsorship speech because another lawmaker was threatening to question the quorum in order to stop a new law creating Davao Occidental province from being read into the House records. The same thing happened on Wednesday.

In both instances, any challenge to the quorum was expected to have succeeded because there were only a few lawmakers present.

Certification not meddling

Malaluan also said issuing a certification would not be considered meddling on the part of the President.

“The certification is only an expression of the President’s own prerogative. How Congress will respond to that prerogative is its own doing,” he said.

The Right to Know, Right Now Coalition, which includes representatives from the media, business, labor, student body and the Catholic Church, will assemble at the University of Sto. Tomas at 2 p.m. on Monday, according to Malaluan.

From there, the group will march to Mendiola. He said the group would seek a meeting with Undersecretary Manuel L. Quezon III and deliver a letter containing their appeal to the President.

The FOI bill is supposed to lay down a government policy of full public disclosure of transactions involving public interest, subject to certain limitations.

With the bill, any person should be able to easily obtain pertinent data on the dealings of the government, in order to foster a climate of good governance and promote transparency and accountability.

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  • cute79

    gud idea,sana maipasa na nga ang FOI bill

  • bogli_anakdami

    uy, martsa ulit… kikita na naman ako nito…

    dis taym eh dadamihan ko ang karga ng aking kariton >>> bottled water, banana q, turon, balot, condom, tsiklets, yosi, tuwalya, kampupot at ilang-ilang..

    meron ba akong nalimutan?… yehey, kwarta na naman ito…

    sige lang mga flip gung gongs, martsa ng martsa, di ba???

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EXFI4EUGM23PQ4FMQKLVH36OXI Jose

    This is something that I think has near-universal support amongst the populace. I support P-Noy, and think he’s done a very good job, but this needs attention, and soon.  I’m not saying sign the current version NOW, as we of course all want the bill to be the best it can be, but the administration needs to keep pushing for this.

  • OneSearch

    this is another predicament of the phil president. congress, the lawmaking body co-equal to the executive, should be the one pushing, tackling and doing the job of passing this bill. they have not able to do so because of bickering, grandstanding in the form of privilege speeches and most of all palaging absent. ito ay inamin din ni casino ayun sa balita. now it’s the presidents “stalling” that is preventing FOI come to pass, they said. kailangan lagi nila ang certification galing presidente para mapadali ang isang batas, wala silang kusang palo para gawin ang trabaho nila, walang pagkakaisa at laging nagtuturo doon sa malakanyang daw ang may kasalanan. 

    dapat doon kayo mag rally sa congress building, sa harap ni belmonte.

  • http://www.yellowmythbusters.gov.ph/ Weder-Weder Lang

    Nothing is stopping Pnoy from certifying the FOI bill as urgent but himself.

    Political will?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VS5EYSP4FPOTVQCJZ24NRE6Z2M Edgardo Mendoza

    dun kayo pumunta sa singapore may FOI BILL di puwede sa pinas yan kasi masisilip lahat

  • where_I_stand

    Sana di matulad ng Mendiola massacre.

  • RRSPEAK

    ○○○ The Freedom of Information Bill is a NECESSITY,○○○ For it will GUARANTY
    ○○○ Governmental TRANSPARENCY !! .. (ref: Matthew 10:26). ((^_^)) ☻☺☻☺☻

  • disqusted0fu

    What happened to Pnoy’s promise of supporting the passage of this bill? FOI advocates should just continue the pressure on Pnoy to certify this bill as urgent, and hope that for once Pnoy will listen to what the nation wants, not just on what his friends want.

    FOI is a must for the country to have a fairer justice, so the KKKs will not be exempted from it.

  • http://twitter.com/concerncitizenn concern citizenn

    FOI is extremely important for Democracy! If government protects their power, how can we countrymen??

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