Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Lawmaker urges FOI bill passage

THE Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) should be passed within the Aquino administration, said Akbayan Partylist Representative Barry Gutierrez in his recent visit to Baguio City.

While President Benigno Aquino III did not mention the FOI bill in his final State of the Nation Address (Sona) last July 27, he asked lawmakers to pass the bill in his budget message that followed his state address.

Earlier, Gutierrez said he is confident this will be enacted by the 16th Congress, stressing this will not only be a written legacy but will be a tool in instilling a "culture of disclosure," which will consequently make the government have more sense of "transparency and accountability."

The representative emphasized the House's version is a promising one with its open data provision.

Under the open data provision, it is mandatory for government agencies to release information even without requests.

It also includes a concept of "release one, release to all," wherein any requested document should automatically be uploaded also on web where it is accessible to the public.

"Tingin naman namin sa latest version ng bill eh na-address naman sufficiently yung potential abuse. Halimbawa safeguard to certain privacy but at the same time upholding the public interest," said Gutierrez.

He assured the current bill has clearer procedures of access and guarantees timely and accurate information.

"This Congress, we are in a better position than we were in the previous Congress to pass this kasi at least ngayon, approved na at the committee level so on the way to discussions at the plenary," he added.
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