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Makabayan lawmakers vow to work hard

/ 07:11 PM August 17, 2016
Carlos Zarate

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate (INQUIRER PHOTO)

The militant lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc who were given pertinent House committees for perks vowed to use their posts to push for pro-people policies in Congress.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and ACT Rep. Antonio Tinio made this promise after getting the chairperson posts of the committees on natural resources and public information, respectively.

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Zarate said as chairperson of the natural resources committee, he would prioritize amending the Mining Act of 1995 to better regulate irresponsible mining companies.

“Napakalaking committee nung natural resources. Ang thrust natin dyan, kailangang i-review at i-revisit ang 1995 Mining Act. Dahil klaro naman sa nangyayari in the past, yung pangakong development ay hindi nangyayari, lalo na sa komunidad kung saan nandiyan ang malalaking kumpanya ng pagmimina,” Zarate said.

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Zarate said he shared the view of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez about the ill effects of irresponsible mining.

READ: Gina Lopez: Where there’s mining, there is also poverty

“Ang nangyayari ngayon, in-i-implement niya (Lopez) ang batas… Nasa ambit ng kaniyang power yun. It’s a challenge now, especially sa mining industry, dahil alam natin ang daming violations diyan, nagpipikit mata lang ang nakaraang administrasyon,” Zarate said.

For his part, Tinio said his committee would prioritize passing the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill free of the exemptions that riddled the Malacanang-backed FOI bill during the 16th Congress under the administration of then President Benigno Aquino III.

READ: Consolidated FOI bill mostly Palace version

Tinio said he would push for a genuine FOI bill and not a watered down version of the proposed measure for transparency in government.

“Ang version natin ay talagang nagtitiyak na hindi ma-wa-water down through exemptions yung freedom of information. In the past Congress, we voted no at the committee level to the substitute bill to Freedom of Information Act because we thought there were far too many exemptions inserted by Malacanang,” Tinio said.

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The FOI bill has been languishing in the past nine Congresses.

“As far as we’re concerned, ang ipaglalaban natin isang genuine Freedom of Information Act na talagang magbibigay buhay sa karapatan ng mamamayang Pilipino,” Tinio said.

He said his committee would start the ball rolling by building up on the executive order President Rodrigo Duterte himself signed for a freedom of information policy in the executive department.

READ: Duterte signs FOI order

Tinio said he would wait for the exemptions to the executive order that would be listed in the implementing rules and regulations.

“Malacañang has set the tone. Pinakita na ang freedom of information and transparency in government is a priority of the administration. Nasa Kongreso na ngayon ang hamon para magpasa ng batas,” Tinio said.

“Muli, ako bilang chair, igagarantiya ko sa inyo na gagawin natin ang lahat para maipasa ito sa lalong madaling panahon,” he added.

The militant lawmakers were given committee posts as a perk for being a member of the majority coalition which elected the winning Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. The other militant lawmaker to get a committee was Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus, who would head the poverty alleviation committee.

READ: Bayan Muna lawmaker chairs committee on natural resources | Gabriela solon to lead House committee on poverty alleviation

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TAGS: House of Representatives, Makabayan, Makabayan bloc
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