FOI bill need not be certified urgent – Belmonte
The FOI bill may be voted on second reading by January 2013, after Congress goes on a one-month break starting December 22

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr is not keen on asking President Benigno Aquino III to certify the freedom of information (FOI) bill urgent.

Aquino’s certification of the bill would allow the House to vote on the bill on second and third reading within a day.

In a press conference Tuesday, December 18, Belmonte said, “As far as we’re concerned, we’d like to see it go through the process first.”

Eastern Samar Rep Ben Evardone said he is ready to sponsor the FOI bill during plenary Tuesday afternoon.

The committee report on the FOI bill was signed by members of the House committee on public information members last week. Members voted 17-3 with one abstention.

On Monday, senators unanimously voted to approve its version of the FOI bill. The People’s Ownership of Government Information (POGI) Act of 2012 is principally authored by Sen Gregorio Honasan III.

Belmonte said the FOI bill may be voted on second reading by January 2013, after Congress goes on a one-month break from Dec 22, 2012 to Jan 20, 2013.

Ifugao Rep Teddy Baguilat Jr, an author of the FOI bill, supports Belmonte’s position. The FOI bill needs to go through a period of debate first, according to him.

“Even with a certification, the bill hasn’t been discussed adequately in the plenary thus we will have to entertain interpellations and proposed amendments,” Baguilat added. –

Click on the links below for more about the FOI bill: