FOI bill to hurdle House committee by October-A A +A
Friday, September 7, 2012
MANILA - The Freedom of Information (FOI) bill will likely hurdle the committee on public information after the two-week break of Congress next month, a leader of the House of Representatives said on Thursday.
"It should out of the committee by October. But there should be consensus. At times, it's the consensus that is very difficult to achieve," Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II told reporters in a press conference.
The House committee on public information, chaired by Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, has last convened a hearing on the FOI bill in February last year.
A committee hearing was set on August 7 but was deferred because another controversial measure, the RH bill, was scheduled in the House plenary's agenda on same day.
Evardone then explained that the House leadership instructed him to postpone committee hearings until a majority caucus on the FOI bill has been called.
A month after, the House leadership has yet to schedule a caucus.
Meanwhile, a statement released by The Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition on Wednesday said that it is Gonzales and Evardone who are conspiring to kill the FOI bill.
The former ruling party Lakas-Kampi-CMD, where the two lawmakers previously belong, had the numbers in the 14th Congress when the FOI bill was nearly ratified. Gonzales and Evardone jumped to the Liberal Party in the 2010 elections.
"By all indications, the real fear about the FOI bill that spooks Gonzales, entrenched politicians and political dynasties in the country is that it will open the door to legitimate public scrutiny into their official acts and transactions, and enable the people's right to know the good, the bad, and the ugly about them all," the statement read.
Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr., one of the main authors of the FOI bill, agreed with the observation of the group.
"Without mentioning names, I think former allies of the past administration are conspiring to kill the bill because they are afraid of what may be unearthed further regarding the anomalies of the past that could implicate them," he said in a text message.
"They're using the committee on public information as their instrument by holding the bill hostage," Baguilat, also the deputy spokesperson of the LP, added.
In a separate text message, Evardone denied the allegation of the coalition. "They are fabricating baseless stories. It appears that they are good at it. But no amount of falsehoods can pressure me," Evardone said in a text message. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)