FOI bill passage lag questioned

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Monday, February 3, 2014


A BROADCASTER and a senator questioned the government for the delay in the passing of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.

“If the ‘daang matuwid’ dictum of President Benigno Aquino III is true, why not certify the Freedom of Information bill as urgent?” asked Albino Quinlog Jr., the president of Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas in Northern Mindanao (KBP-NorMin).

Quinlog, the station manager of dxRK 99.9 FM Magnum Radyo, said the FOI bill will help lessen the corruption in the government since it is aimed at transparency on government transactions.

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“Without the FOI there is no guarantee that transparency within the government will be given to the Filipino people,” said Quinlog.

He furthered that the FOI bill will not only open information to the media but also to the Filipino people.

“This will give power to the people, not just the media, to know the activities in the government agencies,” he added.

Quinlog said that instead of requesting information regarding government transactions, the media and the people could just simply invoke the FOI to access information.

Pro-FOI

Meanwhile, Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, in a press conference here Saturday, said the FOI bill has no problem in the senate level.

He said that the FOI bill will passed before the year ends.

“The senate conducted two hearings for the FOI bill last year,” Ejercito said adding that he is one of the principal authors of the bill when he was still a congressman from the 12th to the 15th congress.

Lag

“We have a good chance of passing it had it been certified as urgent,” said Ejercito expressing his disappointment for the president's failure to do so.

Ejercito added that until the FOI bill is not certified as urgent, it will be really hard to pass it in the Lower House.

He added that the “real problem” of the FOI bill is in the House of Representatives.

Furthermore, if Pres. Aquino will not give a ‘go signal’ that the bill is urgent then it will surely take time, he said.

“The FOI bill will have an easier sailing in the House of Representative if the President includes it as one of the priorities,” said Ejercito.

He said if Aquino will order that the bill is ‘urgent,’ then it will be calendared or scheduled for discussion.

Recognized by law

An article posted in Ejercito’s website said: “The failure of the Congress to adopt a law that will give life to the aforementioned declared policy of the Constitution is a deprivation of the people’s right to information.

“It has been recognized by the Supreme Law of the land that the people have a right to information on matters of public concern,” the article added.

The article stated that the enactment of the FOI legislation is the obligation of the lawmakers to the Filipinos.

The article furthered: “Just as their obligation to pay taxes, so it is ours to protect their hard-earned money.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 03, 2014.

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