Senator: No hope yet for FOI bill in Congress-A A +A
Monday, January 14, 2013
A SENATOR expressed concerns that the controversial, but much awaited Freedom of Information (FOI) bill might be stalled and deemed as no hope for its passage by the current Congress.
Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan said that with only nine session days left before Congress adjourns for the election campaign and only three remaining sessions after the elections by June 2013, the current congress may not pass the bill.
Honasan, principal author of the bill dubbed also as the people’s ownership of government information (Pogi), was in Iloilo City for a consultation dialogue with the media reporters and government information officers in Western Visayas.
He admitted that the proposed measure is not certified as an urgent bill by President Benigno Aquino III unlike the sin tax and reproductive health bills which were already enacted into laws of the country.
He said the bill, if enacted in the next Congress, will radically change the bureaucratic landscape of the government as the media will be forced to allocate certain time for government information. Exceptions will have to be made on national security, foreign policy, and executive information, among others, which the media must consider.
The senator said the burden will lie in government agencies that refuse to give information to the media, but the process is also sending chilling effect in the freedom of the speech and up against public officials.
Other proposals such as the mandatory right to reply bill, mandatory registration of media, and decriminalizing libel for journalists will have to wait in the next Congress after the May polls.
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) president Nestor Burgos told Honasan that the media organization is strongly against the plan for these three mandatory proposals that will curtail the freedom of the media in the Philippines.
Honasan assured that all inputs will be collated and used as basis for the refilling of the information bill in next Congress.