Miracle needed to pass FOI bill-A A +A
Thursday, January 24, 2013
WITH or without a certification from President Benigno Aquino III, proponents of the freedom of information (FOI) bill will need "something short of a miracle" to have their proposal approved in the House of Representatives.
Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr., one of the authors of the FOI bill, said he regrets not pushing for the FOI bill hard enough when it was still pending in the committee level.
"Why did we let it (FOI bill) languish in the committee level? In these nine days, it's going to take something short of a miracle to have it passed," Baguilat told reporters in an ambush interview.
Baguilat said that although President Aquino has “always been supportive” of the pro-transparency measure, the House of Representatives failed to get the backing that it had during the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona, and the proposals on reproductive health (RH) and sin tax measures.
To recall, Aquino certified as urgent the bills on RH and sin tax.
“I don't see Malacañang united in its stand on FOI. There are those who are lukewarm on the proposal,” he added.
Citizens Battle Against Corruption party-list Representative Sherwin Tugna, also an author, said that even if Aquino would certify the FOI bill as urgent, the remaining six session days are not enough to have the measure passed.
“Sad to say, the remaining six days are not enough. Also, based on my personal observation, even if Aquino steps in, the bill will not pass three readings. The bill will be subjected to interpellation and debate that will require more than six days,” Tugna said.
More than the lack of time, the House of Representatives has failed to muster a quorum in the past three session days since it resumed legislative work.
The FOI bill was supposed to be sponsored in the plenary Tuesday but due to lack of warm bodies on the floor, a parochial concern of Davao del Sur Representative Marc Douglas Cagas prevailed over discussions on the FOI bill.
Tugna said most of his colleagues have abandoned their legislative work to campaign early for the 2013 midterm elections.
"Although I and the other authors of the bill are still hopeful of its passage, many of our colleagues still want to interpellate on the bill and that is not possible with the lack of a quorum. It is a shame because whether one agrees with the bill or not, all agree that it tackles matters of paramount national importance and public discourse would be served by debate on the bill," Aurora Representative Sonny Angara, also an author, added.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the House leadership will send text reminders to their colleagues to attend plenary sessions.
“If there is no quorum, anybody against (the FOI bill) can stymie the process as has happened on Tuesday and Wednesday. We are texting to help ensure quorum,” he said. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)