Bishop renews appeal for Aquino to certify FOI bill as urgent-A A +A
Monday, January 21, 2013
WITH only a few days left for the 15th Congress, an official of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) strongly appealed Monday to President Benigno Aquino III to certify the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill as an urgent measure.
In a statement, CBCP – National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace (Nassa) Chairman Bishop Broderick Pabillo said they are hoping Aquino would finally heed the call of the different sectors for the bill's passage.
"Needless to say, President Aquino can choose to make a difference by certifying the urgency of the FOI bill," said Pabillo.
Aside from the Chief Executive, he also called on lawmakers, particularly members of the House of Representatives, to pass the bill already just like what the Senate did last month.
"In the spirit of truth and justice, CBCP-Nassa calls upon the House of Representatives, with or without the certification of urgency from President Aquino, to act on the FOI bill," said Pabillo.
However, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Monday, the first day of sessions after the month long Christmas break, that the FOI bill was not included in the day's order of business at the House of Representatives.
The consolidated FOI bill, he said, will be sponsored in the plenary on Tuesday.
Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, the chairman of the House committee on public information, who will sponsor the FOI bill, said he is still hoping that an FOI law will be enacted this year.
Congress will go on break again next month to prepare for the 2013 midterm elections. The House of Representatives has only nine session days left to discuss pending bills and resolutions.
Last December, the Senate had already passed its version of the FOI bill while the measure is currently pending second reading at the House.
Congress is only set to hold sessions from January 21 to February 8 before adjourning to give way for the May 13 polls.
If not, the bishop said this might have serious repercussions for the ruling Liberal Party (LP) come Election Day.
He said this is because the failure to pass the FOI bill will only mean that the administration has failed to fulfil its campaign promise in 2010.
"President Aquino, however, upon his assumption into office, has sent mixed signals on the FOI. It took him awhile to endorse amendments to address a number of concerns on the bill that he has raised, but that endorsement has not carried with it the same stamp of urgency that has characterized other measures that he has supported vigorously," said the bishop. (HDT/Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)