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House technical group adopts common provisions of 22 FOI bills

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House technical group adopts common provisions of 22 FOI bills

/ 05:01 PM February 06, 2014

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. 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 – The technical working group (TWG) on the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill agreed to adopt the common provisions of the 22 versions of the proposed measure that ensures transparency and accountability in government.

In the public information committee meeting on Thursday, the TWG tasked to consolidate the bills agreed to adopt the non-controversial provisions in the final draft.

Meanwhile, the group would debate on the contentious ones such as the exemption from the bill of records of executive sessions and statements of assets and liabilities net worth (SALN), as well as the expanded exemptions due to national security in the Malacañang-sponsored FOI bill.

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The group’s next meeting is on February 12 when they are set to discuss the contentious provisions.

Iloilo Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., member of the TWG, told reporters at the sidelines of the meeting that adopting the common provisions would give them more time to discuss the controversial ones.

Also present in the meeting is former deputy speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, the main proponent of the bill under the 15th Congress and now representing the Right to Know Right Now! Coalition.

He told INQUIRER.net at the sidelines of the meeting that adopting the common provisions is not meant to expedite the process. February is usually a period for TWGs to present consolidated bills, Tañada added.

“It’s not to expedite the process but to give more time to discuss the contentious provisions,” he said.

The FOI bill has been languishing in the committee level as the TWG failed to meet twice last year. Thursday’s meeting is their first time under the 16th Congress.

Under the 15th Congress, the FOI bill reached the plenary but was not mentioned before it adjourned for the break.

Meanwhile, under the 14th Congress, the bill was not passed after the House failed to meet a quorum.

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