Aquino asks Congress to pass FOI Bill

WHILE President Benigno Aquino III did not include in the list of priority measures the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill in his State of the Nation Address (Sona), in the budget message he submitted to Congress on Tuesday, he sought for its passage.

The President noted that his administration's "steadfast pursuit of reforms" has dramatically improved the Philippine standing in global benchmarks of budgetary transparency.

He said that greater fiscal transparency leads to a more responsive government.

By reducing lump sum funds and presenting the spending plan into detailed programs and projects, Aquino said the administration does not only reduce opportunities for corruption but also speed up budget execution process.

Through innovations, such as the Transparency Seal, Open Data Philippines, and the People's Budget, the Filipinos understand the budget better and access information on government finances and operations faster, he said.

By publishing performance information through the Performance-Informed Budgeting and the regular budget reports, the government also empowers the public to hold the public officials accountable for their actions, the President added.

However, to ensure that all these efforts continue, he asked Congress to pass the FOI Bill.

"To ensure the permanency of transparency policies, we urge Congress to pass the Freedom of Information Act," Aquino said.

The President was criticized when in his Sona on Monday, he did not include the FOI bill on the list of the measures that he wanted the current Congress to pass.

One of those who raised this issue was Senator Grace Poe, who has been topping in the presidential surveys for 2016 elections. (SDR/Sunnex)

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