House panel chair wants FOI renamed to ‘access to information’ bill-A A +A
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
ACCESS to information (ATI) or freedom of information (FOI)?
Misamis Occidental Representative Jorge Almonte, the new chairman of the House committee on public information, wants to refer to the pro-transparency measure FOI as the ATI bill.
The FOI bill has been called as such since it was filed in the 8th Congress. In the last 15th Congress, the committee report on the consolidated bill was referred to the plenary but due to lack of time, the House of Representatives was not able to debate it for second reading approval.
“Like Lazarus, the ATI bill was resurrected from the archives, thereafter,” Almonte said as he asked members of the committee not to rest on their laurels for the approval of the "monumental" piece of legislation.
"Needless to emphasize is the clamor for at least the interested groups for the access to information bill to be passed...I consider the public clamor a test rather than a pressure," Almonte added in his opening statement.
Almonte said 18 bills with the same nature as the FOI have been referred to his committee.
The said measures will be tackled in the technical working group during the congressional break from October 26 to November 17 upon the approved motion of one of the FOI authors, said Diwa party-list Representative Emmeline Aglipay.
Cebu Representative Gwendolyn Garcia would have wanted that the committee first discuss the legislative history of the FOI bill especially that 11 of the 18 measures are new and only seven were re-filed from the previous Congress.
Zamboanga City Representative Celso Lobregat echoed the sentiment of Garcia urging his fellow public information committee members not to "fast track" the measure.
But Akbayan party-list Representative Walden Bello stressed the urgency of the measure amid the public clamor for transparency following the alleged misuse of priority development assistance funds (PDAF) allocated to members of Congress.
"We feel there is a great urgency because of public opinion. They are searching for transparency during this present crisis," Bello told the committee. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)