No public information committee, no FOI bill
MANILA, Philippines—Why is the House leadership dragging its feet in forming the committee on public information?
Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora believes the reason may be that the majority bloc remains uncertain about what it wants to do with a freedom of information (FOI) bill, or if it wants one at all.
“I’m not sure that the majority is prepared to come up with a clear statement on whether they want the FOI or not,” said Zamora, noting that public information committee is expected to tackle only the FOI measure.
“Until they are able to resolve that, you should not expect them to come up with a committee,” he said.
But Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II denied that the delay in the formation of the public information committee had anything to do with the FOI bill.
“Not true. Some committees really take time to form,” he said in a text message.
Party-list House member Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers), a supporter of the FOI bill, said the minority was willing to take the committee “if the majority is not yet ready.”
Zamora pointed out that before setting up a committee, the majority has to first decide the policy.
“If I were the majority, that’s exactly what I would be doing,” he said.
The chairmanship and composition of the public information committee is deemed crucial to the fate of the FOI bill at the House of Representatives.
In the last Congress, the measure’s advocates struggled to get it past the committee that was then headed by Rep. Ben Evardone, a member of President Aquino’s Liberal Party.
With strong pressure from the public, Evardone eventually sponsored a version of the bill in the plenary, but that was as far as it went.
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