House adopts Palace’s FOI version

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Will the Freedom of Information bill pass the committee level before Congress goes on recess March 23?

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives’ public information committee decided on Tuesday, March 13, to adopt the Malacañang version of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, barely 2 weeks before Congress goes on recess.

“The outcome of this committee hearing was very promising, that they have decided to adopt, in principle, our version together with their consolidated version,” Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III told Rappler after the hearing.

“So for our part, this continues our sense of optimism and support for the work of the committee,” added Quezon, who echoed hopes that the committee could come up with a report on the bill before the congressional recess on March 23.

The Palace transmitted its version of the FOI bill on February 2. 

The Palace version has additional provisions on the following: 

  • access to financial information, particularly Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs);
  • streamlining of availability of information online via official government websites;
  • the use of major Filipino languages in information dissemination; and
  • the creation of “Freedom of Information Manuals” by agencies 

Admin-FOI

Meanwhile, Quezon said the government has not been negligent of other matters, aside from Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment, as critics claim.

“The President has given full time and attention to all the issues that require his attention,” Quezon said.

“However,” he added, “the foundation of the rule of law and even of the faith and confidence of the people that legislation would be effective, is confidence in the system of justice. It is the idea that there will be corresponding punishments for those who violate the law and their obligations under the state.”

Filipinos, who simply want food on their table, are losing interest in Corona’s impeachment trial, according to a recent study by an independent pollster. – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com