FOI Bill finally tackled at House

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MANILA, Philippines — The Freedom of Information Bill was finally tackled at the House of Representatives on Monday.

This was after the House finally conducted its first roll call this year, after failing to check on the attendance of its members for the first three session days last week.

There were 186 congressmen present during the session when House Bill 6766 or the Freedom of Information Act was introduced. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Sunday sent reminders to House members to attend session so they could muster quorum.

FOI Bill principal author Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III said that the controversial measure they were pushing was not included in the day’s Order of Business.

But Public information panel chairman Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone was allowed to sponsor HB 6766 at past 6 p.m.

Tañada said that the sponsorship pushed through as the result of an agreement between the majority and minority blocs of the House.

FOI co-author Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat had earlier said that contentious issues on the bill were best tackled on the floor after the measure was sponsored.

In his sponsorship speech, Evardone said that the passage of the FOI Bill “will change governance as we know it, radically, and for the better.”

The version being pushed provides exceptions for certain information to be kept secret under guidelines of an executive order, if it can interfere with military and law enforcement operations, or if it constitutes invasion of privacy, among others.

If enacted, the bill will allow individuals to submit requests for government information. The measure also proposes remedies for possible denial of such requests, such as filing complaints with the Office of the Ombudsman.

The bill mandates that government agencies upload on its websites records on its annual budget, finances including income and expenditure, and procurement and construction contracts, among others.

Evardone, reading from his sponsorship speech of the bill, assured that the exceptions should not be used to cover up wrongdoing or corruption.

This piece of legislation has taken twenty years by now, according to Tanada in his sponsorship speech for the measure.

Possibly spurred by questions on possible abuse on the FOI Bill once enacted, he said that they were open to amendments and urged all House members to allow the measure to be debated and voted on “if (they) believe in sincere governance.”

Tañada admitted that there was limited time, with only five session days left for the 15th Congress to work before the campaign period starts, but urged the House leadership to help the bill’s passage.

“The challenge to the House of Representatives of the 15th Congress is to finally see to the enactment of the FOI Law… Question is whether we can maintain quorum,” he said.

And with time running out fast, FOI authors said that they were planning to speak with President Benigno Aquino III and urge him to certify the bill as urgent.

Baguilat said that they would still try despite the Malacañang’s earlier stand for
House members to resolve issues on HB 6766 amongst themselves first before the executive branch came into the picture.

Akbayan Partylist Representative Walden Bello has earlier said that they were preparing to accompany FOI advocates from various sectors to convince the President that the people need the FOI Bill passed in the 15th Congress.

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  • mekeni62

    good pero ilang sessions na lang ba?…. at least naumpisahan.

  • TwiggyRamirez

    …akala ko bang FOI bill is dead ayun kay Maceda? good thing at naumpisahan na ito. it’s about time!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/MDAWMT3LIDHOCW7ZTSYXZEUQQ4 ghe

    Is this the watered down version ng FOI bill?  may mga exemptions pa din sa access to information…naku ha. 

    • verconti

      oo nakakabwisit.. people are pumped up for this bill to be passed but little do they know about the amendments that were secretly done… there is no spirit anymore in this bill, it wont serve the public..

  • josesantos318

    Si maceda ang dead, Hindi ang FOI bill. Tingnan ang latest survey for senatorial candidates, maceda is no. 20 plus.

  • elgeepee

    Hopefully congressmen will see the light to help us to cleanse this government of corrupt people.

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

    Fingers crossed, though I WOULD like to know which bill this is.

  • opinyonlangpo

    Delaying the FOI bill just shows that corruption is still rampant. Those whose flagship is anticorruption and say this is not urgent just shows that their promises and speeches are all empty and is just a tool to sway the voting public in their favor. Now who were fooled?

  • READMENOW2011

    No reason for Pnoy not to certify the FOI Bill as urgent. Almost everybody is clamoring for its passage into law. 

  • verconti

    the one their proposing is already a watered idea.. there’s exemption in a broad sense.. this just benefit some corrupt politicians..so to speak, this is non sense, it should be renamed and those who originally drafted the bill should push for it no more no less..

  • FernandoBusi

    Pass FoI Bill undiluted otherwise it will be a toothless law specially after its implementing rules and regulations are crafted. 

    Style ng LP bulok. 

  • RRSPEAK

    ○○○ The Passage of the FOI Bill is Truly NECESSARY,
    ○○○ For this will ensure and GUARANTY
    ○○○ Governmental Truthfulness and ACCOUNTABILITY !! .. (ref: Matthew 10:26). ((^_^)) ☻☺☻☺☻

  • disqusted0fu

    Without Pnoy’s certification of urgency for the FOI, this bill has a very slim chance of passing. But with queries such as what happened to the bidding of over priced guns for the PNP? Where are the 200 missing container vans? How much did the government really spend on all of Pnoy’s junkets? And many more… We can’t expect the support of Pnoy for this bill. Clearly the opposite of what he promised during his campaign.

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