House leader won’t give up on freedom of info bill-A A +A
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
HOUSE Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tanada III said Tuesday that he will not give up until the proposed freedom of information (FOI) bill is enacted into law.
Tanada made the statement following the remarks of Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II that there is limited time to pass the FOI bill in the House of Representatives.
Gonzales added that congressmen are wary that the FOI bill will be used by the “hao shao” media -- or illegitimate members of the press – against government officials.
“The problem with FOI is when the information ends up in the hands of unscrupulous media,” he said in a radio interview over the weekend.
“Freedom of the press is not an absolute freedom. It can be regulated,” Gonzales added.
Tanada, the principal author of the FOI bill, argued that Gonzales’s concerns can be taken up in the plenary once the FOI bill is approved in the committee level.
“If we can just get over the Evardone ‘hump’ and convince him to immediately call for a public hearing on the draft substitute bill, get it out of the Committee on Public Information and unto the Plenary, then we will be able to address issues raised by other congressmen as expressed by Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales,” Tanada said.
“Let us not create demons in our own minds as we have full control of the final language of the law. Let’s all keep our eye on the ball -- focus on the fundamentals that this bill stands for -- transparency, accountability and participatory governance,” he added.
Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, chairman of the House committee on public information, denied that the FOI bill has been “killed” in the House panel.
“It’s not dead. That’s not true. We’re just waiting for the House leadership to call a caucus before I convene the committee members,” he said.
Evardone said he is ready to defend the FOI bill and has, in fact, prepared his own presentation for the yet to be scheduled caucus.
At least 117 congressmen have openly declared their support to the FOI bill through a manifesto published in several newspapers last month. Evardone did not sign it.
In the Senate, meanwhile, the senators’ version of the FOI bill has already been transmitted to the plenary with 22 senators endorsing it. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)