Palace stands by its own version of FOI bill-A A +A
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
MALACAÑANG defended Tuesday its own version of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill amid withdrawal of support from some progressive lawmakers due to some "restrictive" provisions inserted by the executive branch in the measure.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte denied that the provisions introduced by Malacañang, particularly on executive privilege and national security, limit the access to information.
"We don't understand why they were saying that the provisions will prohibit access to information. That was incorrect," Valte said in Filipino.
She pointed out that the two provisions were "recognized exceptions by way of jurisprudence" not only in the country but other countries as well.
She insisted that the Malacañang remains faithful to its vision of allowing the public to easily access information.
"In all six versions of the bill, we were the only one that inserted the provision of uploading the SALN (statements of assets liabilities and net worth) of congressmen, senators in the Internet for public viewing," she said.
Party-list representatives Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares (Bayan Muna), Rafael Mariano (Anakpawis), Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus (Gabriela), Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers) and Raymond Palatino (Kabataan) withdrew their support for the FOI bill, saying that it favors the Executive Branch rather than the people.
Section 7 of the House version of the FOI bill or the House Bill 6766 enumerates records pertaining to national security, defense, foreign affairs, law enforcement and border control as exceptions to access to information.
Valte said the Palace aims to introduce a version of FOI that will provide access to public information that is vital to public interest "but without hampering necessarily the work of government."
"That was the balance that we wanted to strike and we believe that we were able to put it down in the version that we submitted to the Lower House and to the Senate," she said.
Malacañang, meanwhile, dismissed that President Benigno Aquino III's inaction on the FOI bill could determine the fate of his allies in the May 2013 elections.
"Better if the administration is judged on its collective action on many issues. We will leave it up to the voters," said Valte. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)