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Robredo hopes to prod Aquino on urgency of FOI bill

/ 04:54 AM January 10, 2016

Liberal Party vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo will seek an audience with President Benigno Aquino III to appeal for help in getting the freedom of information (FOI) bill passed in the House of Representatives before his term ends in five months.

“If I get a chance to speak to him, this (FOI bill) is one of the things I’ll take up with him. There is still time to pass this under the 16th Congress,” the Camarines Sur lawmaker said.

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Robredo said she would ask the President to certify the FOI bill as urgent to prompt House leaders to start plenary discussions on the bill.

Robredo admitted being “frustrated” that the proposed law, which she coauthored, had not yet reached the plenary at the House.

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The House committee on public information approved the FOI bill back in November 2014. The Senate, for its part, passed its version of the bill in March 2014.

The President has been criticized for his inaction on the measure after making it one of his campaign promises in 2010. The legislation would give the public access to state information to ensure accountability and transparency in government.

Congress is expected to resume its session on Jan. 19 but will adjourn on Feb. 6 with the start of the campaign period.

Robredo, however, remained optimistic the FOI bill would be approved in the 16th Congress as long as the President would take steps to push it to the top of the House agenda.

While Mr. Aquino did not include the FOI bill in his final State of the Nation Address, Robredo said the President included it among his priority bills in his budget message. She said this showed the President supported the FOI bill.

Robredo said the House version of the FOI bill was better than the Senate version because the House version was supply-driven, while the Senate’s was demand-driven, with information to be provided only upon by demand by citizens.

“The House version makes it an obligation for the government to make public all relevant information even without any demand from the public,” said Robredo.

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, Camarines Sur, FOI Bill, Freedom of Information bill, Leni Robredo, Liberal Party, President Aquino
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