FOI, a no-show in SONA 2014

By: Danielle Gabriel

President Aquino still excluded the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill from his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasan Pambansa last July 28.

Aquino has claimed that FOI which aims to give easy access to records and information on the government will be passed before his term ends. However, he maintained that the measure need not be certified as urgent.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda meanwhile clarified that the vow to pass the bill still stands despite it not being mentioned in the SONA.

“This is his SONA. He believes what is going to be put in it. He had said it [FOI bill] in the Daylight Dialogue… He said he is going to push for it before the end of his term,” Lacierda said in a television interview.

Meanwhile, members of the legislative department are optimistic that the bill will be enacted into law before the end of this year, saying “the process is slow, but it’s moving.”

“Before our recess last June, our committee [on public information] had seven meetings, which is the most number of meetings in a technical working group on any bill that I attended,” Akbayan Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez III said in a newspaper interview.

FOI bill author Senator Grace Poe, who is also chair of the Senate Committee on People’s Public Information and Mass Media, also has high hopes the bill will be pushed by the end of the Aquino administration.

Grace Poe || Photo by: gmanews.tv

“Although the President did not mention FOI, I am still optimistic that this important measure will be passed under his leadership,” Poe said in an online news site.

The FOI still remains at the committee level at the House of Representatives after the Senate approved it last March.

Once passed into law, the FOI will require public officials to disclose documents held by the government, and even their respective Statements of Assets, Liabilities and New Worth.

Infograph by gmanews.tv


 

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