Move that FOI bill-A A +A
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
IT WILL be simply unthinkable if the lower chamber of the national legislature will again falter on the passage of the freedom of information bill once the measure will be filed anew for the 16th Congress. The bill didn’t encounter much trouble in the Upper House the last time but it was in the Lower House that it faced rough sailing. This time, the expectations are high and no one will buy any alibi to stall the bill’s passage.
The government must not blink on the FOI to avoid speculations that it is not serious after all in its bid to put more teeth to the freedom of the press. The President might as well make use of his inaugural address to issue marching orders to his allies in Congress to refile the bill and for him to certify it as urgent. No dilly dallying this time. The committee on public information must put out all the stops so that whatever was lost the last time when the bill was junked can be regained.
After all, this administration became popular because of its vow for “daang matuwid.” Having an FOI is indispensable to the government’s bid to rid the bureaucracy of graft and corruption.
That’s why the Liberal Party should instead name Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr. to head the committee on public information in the House of Representatives. The guy has been very vocal of his call for the urgent passage of the FOI bill. As legislator and a former media man, Baguilat can steer the measure all the way home. He was obviously displeased when his colleagues sat on the bill and allowed it to lapse into obscurity despite efforts to include the same in the chamber’s last calendar.
I would be one less fan of this government if Teddy Boy would not be renamed as a committee member of the public information committee of the House of Representatives. But I would be doubly impressed if the 46 year old lawmaker from Kiangan, Ifugao would be named as committee chair. I have nothing against Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar who chaired the committee in the 15th Congress. But changing musical chairs for a new Congress will provide fresh approaches.
Maybe we could ask the other Cordillera solons to solidify their ranks and push for Congressman Teddy Boy as chair of the committee.
Representatives Nicasio Aliping Jr. (Baguio City), Ronald Cosalan, (Benguet), Jocelyn Bernos (Abra), Eleanor Begtang-Bulut (Apayao), Manuel Agyao (Kalinga) and Maximo Dalog (Mt. Province) can sign a manifesto of support.
But Congress may not be as it seems. There are varied forces to contend with. For sure, there are those who will be unsettled by the bill’s passage. That’s why Teddy Boy must first engage his party mates in a bull session if the party, or the administration itself, is dead serious in crafting the law to enshrine public right to government information. If Malacanang would say yes, then by all means, let the bill be refiled, ASAP. Call the Liberal Party members and all other legislators who find merit in the bill to rally behind it so that all kinks in the provisions will be ironed out.
Perhaps Teddy can move to make the FOI bill his first legislative proposal for the new Congress. Come on man, be the first on line in the docket section of the lower house at exactly 12:01 at noon of June 30 and get that bill moving.
I will request Roderick Osis, president of the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club (BCBC) to stand behind you. Reggie Cawis of PIA will take the pictures. Jonathan Llanes will do the stand up. Security? Don’t worry. There’s that wrestler turned media man Larry Fabian of the Baguio Reporter.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 30, 2013.