House welcomes Palace go signal on FOI-A A +A
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
MALACANANG’S move to tag the freedom of information (FOI) bill as a priority measure paves the way for the enactment of the proposed law, which has been pending in Congress for the past 17 years, the Speaker of the House of Representatives said Tuesday.
"We are really sympathetic (to FOI) but to tell you frankly, it really helps that the Palace gave its okay. It augurs well for the future of the bill in the 16th Congress," Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. told reporters in an ambush interview.
On Monday, Malacañang bared that the FOI bill, along with 16 other proposed laws, will be presented to the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) next month as priority measures of the Aquino administration.
Belmonte said the Ledac will likely convene after the standoff between government authorities and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga City.
According to Presidential Legislative Liaison Office head Secretary Manuel Mamba, the 17 proposals were chosen from a list of 51 submitted by different Cabinet clusters.
Belmonte, however, said that despite the Palace’s pronouncement on the FOI bill, it will be difficult to guarantee that the pro-transparency measure will be enacted in the 16th Congress.
“Since it never got past the floor, it is difficult to say who is for or against it. I can’t say LP (Liberal Party) or NPC (Nationalist People’s Coalition). At this stage it is about individuals, not parties and organizations,” he explained.
LP is the party of President Benigno Aquino III.
In the past 15th Congress, the ruling LP did not take a party stand on the FOI bill although party members like Representatives Erin Tanada (formerly of Quezon) and Teddy Baguilat Jr. (Ifugao) actively pushed for its approval.
The FOI bill in the House of Representatives only reached discussions for second reading approval although its counterpart measure has been approved in the Senate.
The House committee on public information tasked to discuss the FOI bill is yet to convene while the Senate committee on public information and mass media chaired by neophyte Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares will likely hold its last panel hearing Wednesday, September 18. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)