Party-list bloc withdraws support for FOI bill-A A +A
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
MANILA -- The freedom of information (FOI) bill pending in the House of Representatives has lost support from its seven authors pending the deletion or amendment of "Malacañang-sponsored provisions" that supposedly restricts public access to information.
The seven congressmen comprising the progressive party-list bloc said they would push for the amendments once the FOI bill is sponsored in the plenary.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, the chairman of the House committee on public information, will sponsor the FOI bill in Tuesday's plenary session.
"We feel that the substitute bill, because of the weight of the restrictions, does not anymore reflect our vision of a genuine freedom of information bill," Bayan Muna party-list Representative Teddy Casiño said.
Casiño said they will co-author the measure again if and when the exceptions are deleted or substantially amended.
The party-list bloc specifically pointed out to a provision that institutionalizes the President's "executive privilege" allowing him to withhold certain records of minutes and advice given to him as privileged "by reason of the sensitivity of the subject matter."
"The parameters are unclear. Arbitrary ang dating. Parang 'personal taste' lang ng Chief Executive," Casiño said.
ACT Teacher party-list Representative Antonio Tinio, meanwhile, complained that exempting any information pertaining to national security, including law enforcement is too broad.
Anakpawis party-list Representative Rafael Mariano, for his part, questioned the inclusion of drafts of orders, resolutions, decisions and memoranda among the exempted documents when these are crucial in public consultations, especially the formulation of implementing rules and regulations.
"We have to be vigilant. If we retain the exceptions, we are negating the basis of the proposed measure," Gabriela party-list Representative Luzviminda Ilagan said. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)