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FOI bill makes it to floor

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03:08 AM January 29th, 2013

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January 29th, 2013 03:08 AM

STREET LOBBYING With five sessions left before the 15th Congress adjourns, militant groups troop to the House of Representatives to push for the passage of the freedom of information (FOI) bill, which finally reached the plenary on Monday. The groups say the measure, which is 20 years in the making, is the solution to the squabble over the alleged misuse of government funds. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

The freedom of information (FOI) bill finally reached the plenary Monday, with public information panel chief Rep. Ben Evardone, its main sponsor on the floor, pitching for the measure’s approval in his sponsorship speech.

Evardone said the passage of the measure “will change governance as we know it—radically and for the better.”

“Open societies are not only more preferable than closed societies or societies living in an Orwellian nightmare. We can just imagine what the FOI would institutionalize. A thousand ideas will bloom. Superior, ennobling thoughts will guide the shaping of policy. Every citizen would be part of the policy-shaping mainstream. Our society will finally reap the awesome gains from an empowered citizenry,” Evardone said.

He said the freer flow of information would also help political debates to be more sophisticated and mature and raise the level of political leadership.

On Monday afternoon, labor groups, media practitioners and youth organizations converged on the University of Santo Tomas on España, Manila, and marched to Malacañang to call for the passage of the FOI bill.

The bill’s main author, Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III, said in his sponsorship speech that despite the very narrow window for the bill to be passed, the House could still push it through on third reading.

“If all members of this House sincerely believe in good governance, transparency and accountability, it can be done,” he said, noting that the bill was 20 years in the making.

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