Poll season blamed for FOI bill delay

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04:43 AM January 30th, 2013

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House Deputy Majority Leader Miro Quimbo on Tuesday blamed the campaign season for the absence of many of legislators from the deliberation of key measures such as the FOI bill on the floor. Photo by Tetch Torres/INQUIRER.net

There’s a new reason why congressmen can’t seem to pass the freedom of information (FOI) bill.

House Deputy Majority Leader Miro Quimbo on Tuesday blamed the campaign season for the absence of many of legislators from the deliberation of key measures such as the FOI bill on the floor.

“The problem really today is it is already the campaign period and many of our colleagues are already campaigning, especially those who are running for other positions,” he said in Filipino.

Session was suspended on Tuesday without the FOI measure being taken up. The chamber now has five session days left. Candidates for local positions are not allowed to campaign until March 30, while the campaign period for national bets will start on Feb. 12.

The FOI bill reached the plenary only last Monday but has remained stuck at the sponsorship stage.

The Senate passed its version of the FOI bill last year.

Quimbo urged the public to pressure their respective representatives to pass the bill.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Tuesday joined mounting calls for the passage of the FOI) bill.

In a pastoral statement, the bishops attributed the continuing corruption and abuse of power by public officials to the public’s lack of access to information or possibly, the deliberate hiding of pertinent information by those in the government.

“It is ironic that the government that prides itself of treading the daang matuwid fears the FOI bill because of possible discovery of wrongdoing by public officials. Why are they afraid to entrust the citizens with the truth of their governance?” stated the CBCP.

The Church hierarchy noted that without the FOI bill, many public officials guilty of corruption both in the present and past administration would remain free and not prosecuted for their wrongdoings.

CBCP President Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes and Manila Auxiliary Bishops Broderick Pabillo, and Bernardino Cortez took turns reading from the statement.

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