Lower house sets first FOI bill hearing
MANILA, Philippines - The House Committee on Public Information will have its first hearing on the proposed Freedom of information (FOI) Bill on October 22.
"The hearing is set on October 22 in the afternoon. No commitment to pass but there was a commitment to discuss," according to Diwa party-list Rep Emmeline Aglipay.
Misamis Oriental Rep Jorge Almonte, chairman of the House Public Information panel, has committed to conduct two hearings in a month on the FOI bill, said Ifugao Rep Teddy Baguilat Jr, one of the proponents of the bill.
"He committed that he will call regular committee hearings, unlike in the last Congress when the gap between hearings takes 6 months," Baguilat said.
In the 15th Congress, the FOI bill stayed in the committee level for two years before it was sent to the plenary for 2nd reading approval. The pro-transparency measure never reached the vote on 2nd reading because the Congress had to go on a long break for the 2013 midterm elections.
President Benigno Aquino III earlier included the FOI bill among the priority measures of the Aquino administration. Aquino and Almonte are allies under the ruling Liberal Party (LP).
On Friday evening, September 27, FOI advocates under the Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition, lit candles at the gates of the House of Representatives to symbolize their desire to have an FOI law.
"We call on the leaders and members of the House of Representatives to demonstrate concrete and positive action on FOI, and match the decisive action so far shown by the Senate," the group said.
The Senate Committee on Public Information, chaired by Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares, passed their version of the FOI bill last September 18. - Rappler.com