House goes on recess without tackling FOI bill

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PHOTO BY KAREN BONCOCAN

MANILA, Philippines—The Freedom of Information Bill remained hanging in its sponsorship stage until the last session day before the House of Representatives went on recess for the campaign period for the May elections.

Authors of the bill in the lower chamber of the 15th Congress pushed to keep the measure alive but said that passion without quorum and later on, Malacañang’s support, was just not enough.

“The advocates have been let down by the people we thought were our allies,” said Akbayan Partylist Representative Walden Bello, a co-author of the FOI Bill.

He said fighting for the bill’s survival became difficult without the President’s certification.

“We are passionate about FOI, but passion is not enough at this point,” said the lawmaker.

Delays punctuated deliberations on the FOI Bill from the committee level up to its introduction at the plenary.

Sponsorship speeches alone, took several session days, with authors trying to work out a way around the consistent lack of quorum and the minority bloc’s efforts to delay the measure’s passage.

But with the election fever high in Congress, more and more lawmakers failed to show up at session, adding to the authors’ frustration.

On Monday, even Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. admitted that there was little hope left for the bill.

Cibac Partylist Representative Sherwin Tugna in a recent interview said he found it frustrating that they could not defend their moves to tackle the bill since there would always be fear that quorum would be questioned.

But Bello said there would definitely be efforts to revive the FOI Bill in the 16th Congress.

Its principal author for the 15th Congress, Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III, would no longer be in the House but Bello said he and the advocates would continue pushing for the measure.

“I am certainly committed to filing it in the 16th Congress if reelected. We will carry on with Cong Erin Tañada’s fight,” he said.

Advocates closed their campaign for the bill in this Congress with a heavy heart, saying they had “exhausted all avenues that we thought were open to us to get positive, decisive action from the leaders of the House of Representatives and from President Aquino no less.”

“Yet they turned a deaf ear to our summons for leadership. Instead they caved in to their fears of an informed and empowered people. They gave us the lie to their avowed claims of transparency and good governance,” the FOI Youth Initiative said in a statement.

The biggest disappointment they said was their belief that the bill had the President’s support since “three years ago he had promised he would accord the bill top priority.”

They lambasted the Malacañang spokespersons’ “curt” response to their appeals for the measure to be certified as urgent, telling them that he “wants to see a ‘healthy debate’ on the FOI bill in the House.”

“Our sad lesson: Words are to candidates cheap, and Presidents lie, indeed,” said the advocates.

“Today we do not bury the FOI Billl. Instead we keep it alive and recommit ourselves to push it in the 16th Congress—despite or in spite of Aquino and his allies,” they said.

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

    crocodile tongresman burn the congress!

  • boybakal

    House goes ON RECESS without tackling FOI bill…

    Ridiculous.
    Now they are on Recess after Holidays, Vacation, and Absences.
    Shame on you….Pnoy works on holidays, birthdays 24/7.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CG6AWFVDA46M5DMR2G7VNAMFUM Mark

      Anong work?hahhaha..nang iinsulto ka ba?

  • bryant85

    Why Aquino didn’t remove the cap of his pen to certify as urgent measure the FOI bill isn’t surprising but rather it’s much expected because it was the reward of the quid pro quo on the Corona impeachment and other legislative bills passed by him to his allies in the lower house for its enactment.Since the congressmen had scratched his back naturally he’ll scratched theirs. That’s the law in the four walls of congress that even the President has to abide with for any resounding breach to it shall entail a severance of ties which both  department shall rue. The enactment of the FOI does more harm than good to the interest of these legislators compared and analyzed to its efficacy as a safety net in the drive against corruption.

    Foremost as a lowdown principle of thieves of funds, the main source of their milk and honey must not be divulged by the enactment of the FOI but instead be shielded from exposure to the public eyes that finally deletes it upon investigation if things go awry. As a metaphor the FOI is the can opener to the can of worms.

  • superpilipinas

    Aquino is corrupt. He opposes transparency for real good governance.

    He certified RH bill which has very small impact to the Philippines compared to FOI.
    Now that RH law is in effect, it will not even cause any overall improvement even after 10 years. Have you felt the difference? Of course not. It’s not really meant ot benefit most people. But PNoy’s clowns in congress are probably now plotting to grab a part of the 3 billion peso budget. Without FOI, there is no stopping them.

    Aquino would not certify FOI because it will affect everyone. Not only his opponents will be targeted, his allies as well. But he wants to protect his allies and that is why he will not certify FOI.

    But FOI bill, at the very moment it becomes law, corrupt people will be suppressed. Demands for information from all agencies will immediately come and transparency in government will start.

    So if we want the FOI law, we can’t vote for Aquino’s allies. His allies are only after their political survival and not what truly helps Filipinos.

    We have to vote for independents and technical professionals from the private sector. These people are logical and not political. They will pass FOI because it makes sense.

    We can’t vote for rehashed candidates of UNA, NP, NPC, Lakas, etc. If you can’t find good candidates to vote, don’t select anyone. So even if those TRAPOS, POLITICAL DYNASTIES, SHOWBIZ/TV PERSONALITIES win, they will only win with very low votes if we don’t vote for them. Then the better independent and technical professionals will be encouraged to run in 2016 and we will have a better set of choices.

    • speaksoftlylove

       FOI means For Obscure Investments bill kaya nangunguna na yong apat na senador na kulang ang tinanggap na pamasko kay Enrile. Nabawasan na nga ang pangnegosyo nila tapos ibibisto pa sa FOI bill? Kaya hayun ang PNoy ngising aso ang hitad.

  • bogli_anakdami

    recess na naman ang mga hinayupak na traposakals… wala ng naging resulta sa kanilang mga pinaggagagawa sa tongresso….

    hay naku, kaya ang flipland eh nasa basurahan eh…

  • kalikasanipagtanggol

    Walden Bello, bakit nawala na ba ang lakas niyo kay pnoy at hindi niyo maipa apura ang FOI bill? O baka naman pakitang tao lang ang pag co-author para kunwari ay talaga gusto niyo ng transparency! kinain ka na ng sistema na tinutuligsa mo nuon at ng makaramdam ka ng ginhawa ay magkakulay na kayo ng mga buwaya diyan sa kongreso!

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

    Mas madami pa bakasyon nila kaysa sa mga common workers. They should work harder than anyone else. We will return the favor by not voting those epal congressmen.

  • KenKhoy

    F-……..oi    ……..my favorite subject ” recess”……..pahingi ng nutribun

  • speaksoftlylove

    Yehey, the best part of the agenda>>>> Recess.

    Time to spend the moolah in foreign countries >>>> Shop until you drop scumbags!

    FOI is For Oploks Intawon anyway, right Great Imp?

  • boybakal

    House goes on RECESS without tackling FOI bill….

    RECESS…. There goes the Taxpayers’ money…Pork Barrel and MOEE….
    Just like school children…favorite subject Recess, kaya lang yon mga bata walang baon tubig lang sa gripo katalo na.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/6QUYQRT7OCJYYTDUB5JY2VFEH4 Wendy

    We are more powerful than the congress, senate, and even the president. We filipinos must be united and push  hard to pass FOI bill. There should be a website dedicated to FOI bill  for signature campaign , and spread it like fire. If only i know how to create a website, then i will do it.

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

    nakakatawa ang mga tongressman na ito pag FOI BILL na pinag uusapan reses na sila burn the congress to much crocodile dapat palitan na pangalan ng congreso JURASIK OF THE PHILIPPINES!

  • pepito gwaps

    They see FOI as ” Foil on Investment” no wonder they dont’t like to tackle it.

  • disqusted0fu

    Malacanang did not at all support the bill. For all we know, they could have perhaps supported the hanging of the bill. Pnoy does not want his straight path get exposed, he does not want his health be disclosed and he does not want his KKKs to be deposed. 

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