Palace to Congress: It takes political will to pass FOI bill
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte continues to support the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, Malacañang said Thursday, citing that it only takes political will to pass it.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement after Duterte failed to mention the passage of the FOI in his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday.
“Eh siguro hindi na kailangan kasi meron nang nagpu-push na sa Congress,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Sen. Grace Poe, an FOI advocate, filed Senate Bill No. 121 or the “People’s Freedom of Information Act of 2019” and urged her colleagues in the 18th Congress to support her and give the bill “one big push.”
Cebu 1st District Rep. Raul del Mar has already filed an FOI bill in the House this 18th Congress through House Bill No. 12.
The FOI bill was approved on third and final reading at the House of Representatives during the 17th Congress but failed to pass in the Senate.
When asked if FOI was still a priority bill of the President, Panelo answered, “Yes, of course and the fact is he issued an executive order on FOI precisely to show Congress that it takes only political will to do that. And he showed it by example.”
On July 23, 2016, Duterte issued Executive Order Executive Order No. 2, which laid down a policy of full public disclosure and transparency in public service to promote accountability, and set the guidelines for requesting and releasing information from offices under the executive branch.
The executive order (EO) does not cover the legislature, judiciary and even local government units (LGUs), although it encourages them to observe the order.
Communications Assistant Secretary and FOI executive director Kris Ablan earlier said they are optimistic that the 18th Congress would pass the FOI bill swiftly. /je
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