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Palace not supporting FOI bill, say solons

/ 06:54 PM January 30, 2013

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. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang is not supporting the Freedom of Information Bill and key leaders of the House of Representatives are allegedly using the minority bloc to slow down its pace.

Cibac Partylist Representative Sherwin Tugna on Wednesday said he felt that the FOI Bill was not being supported by the Palace.
He said it was frustrating that the “FOI is not supported by Malacañang” and that the measure seemed to have lost its hope of being passed in the 15th Congress.


FOI Bill co-author Akbayan Partylist Representative Walden Bello admitted, “I don’t really know what Malacañang priorities are at this point. In fact, I am not sure if the House leadership wants this bill to get through.”

“The sponsors are acting on the assumption of good will on the part of the leadership,” he said.


Tugna said that the three sponsorship speeches were only delivered through “mere tolerance.”

Isabela Representative Rodolfo Albano, a member of the minority bloc, told reporters that there was word going around that the Palace did not want House Bill 6766 passed. “I heard that the Malacañang is not for it.”

A source from the House, who asked not to be identified, told that the minority group, which has been blocking moves to tackle HB 6766, was being used “to stop the bill from moving forward.”

Earlier this week, the sponsorship period for the measure was allowed to be opened in an agreement between the majority and minority blocs but was cut short after Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III’s sponsorship speech.

Only Tañada and the bill’s main sponsor, House committee on public information chairman Eastern Samar Ben Evardone, were able to deliver their speeches on Monday.

The sponsorship period for the Freedom of Information Bill did move forward on Wednesday with Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat delivering his speech.

Tañada presided over the session.


In his sponsorship speech, Baguilat urged fellow House members to “heed the demands of the people we represent, let us pass the FOI Bill.”

He was supposed to deliver the said speech on Monday when the House, for the first time this year reached a quorum, but failed after the leadership chose to suspend deliberations on House Bill 6766.

The bill was not tackled on Tuesday and its authors suspected that this was due to the lack of quorum and the leadership’s fear that question of quorum would be raised.

Baguilat reasoned in his speech that the FOI Bill was necessary since “those in the government are only representatives of the people… (and) the government officials cannot decide for themselves what is good.”

He said that as public officials, it was their “duty to determine the will or get as close as possible” to what the people wanted.

The House however suspended tackling the bill around 5 p.m.

Bello said he sought to reclassify his privilege speech on Monday, appealing to the House leadership that the measure be tackled, as a sponsorship speech but this was opposed by House minority leader Danilo Suarez.

“The minority leader only agreed to Congressman Baguilat’s sponsorship speech this afternoon and vetoed Congressman Tugna’s sponsorship speech. The threat is to question the quorum,” he said.

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TAGS: Congress, FOI Bill, Freedom of Information, Legislation
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