REPRESENTATIVE Lorenzo Tanada III (Fourth District, Quezon) vows to push for the passage of the freedom of information (FOI) bill in the 15th Congress.
Tanada filed House Bill (HB) 53 hoping that it will be the "very first legacy" of the incoming Congress under the administration of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.
He said the bill is long overdue having been a product of several discussions in the past Congresses.
In the last session of the 14th Congress, then House Speaker Prospero Nograles said that the lower chamber could not take up the FOI bill after failing to muster a quorum.
Only 128 lawmakers out of 268 were present when the FOI bill was taken up, short of seven for the session to begin.
The FOI bill allows ordinary citizens to gain access to information, records and documents held by government, and emphasizes government's obligation to publish information in its keeping.
“The approval of the FOI bill by the 15th Congress will add on and enhance the nation’s democratic ideals and further empower the people,” Tanada said.
He said the new bill expands its scope in terms of government agencies as well as information covered.
For his part, Nograles said his son, Karlo (First District, Davao City), is also expected to file a similar bill.
“We just had quorum technical problems the last time. Even my son, Karlo, will also file or co-author measure,” the elder Nograles told Sun.Star.
Former Akbayan lawmaker Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel meanwhile agreed with Tanada that the bill is long overdue and should be passed in the 15th Congress.
During the last session, Hontiveros invoked Section 74 of the House rules, which allows lawmakers present to compel other members to attend and secure a quorum.
"Mas may pag-asa ang bill sa pagpalit ng administration lalo na at sinabi ni President Noynoy na magiging isa sa mga priority niya ang FOI," Hontiveros told Sun.Star. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)