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MANILA, Philippines – While all eyes were on hearing on the impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino III, the technical working group (TWG) on the freedom of information (FOI) bill finally finished consolidating various versions of the measure in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, September 2.
Deliberations at the TWG had moved at a snail’s pace prior to the consensus. It took 9 months before a consolidated bill could be produced. The FOI bill seeks to install quick procedures in accessing documents of high public interest.
With the TWG approval, the FOI bill, which has been pending in Congress for over a decade, can finally be deliberated at committee level. The Senate, meanwhile, passed the FOI bill on 3rd and final reading as early as March.
Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr narrated on Twitter the proceedings that transpired during the TWG meeting.
Here in FOI TWG, Cong Barry explained need to fast track TWG discussions, I moved that we approve draft consensus FOI bill.— Teddy B. Baguilat (@Teddy_Baguilat) September 2, 2014
Cong Kaka now explaining d provisions of the proposed consensus bill. We hope that we can approve with this sweeping motion.— Teddy B. Baguilat (@Teddy_Baguilat) September 2, 2014
After Cong Kaka’s explanation of d consensus bill, Cong Dina Abad explained d open data provisions incorporated in d bill. Cong Em seconded.— Teddy B. Baguilat (@Teddy_Baguilat) September 2, 2014
And then suddenly d bill was passed at TWG.— Teddy B. Baguilat (@Teddy_Baguilat) September 2, 2014
Passed FOI at TWG level in a sudden bold motion. It shows we have the determination, the tactics and the #s to push. Congrats to all.— Teddy B. Baguilat (@Teddy_Baguilat) September 2, 2014
There is still a long way to go. Once the bill is approved on committee level, it will go through the period of debates and amendment, then voting on 2nd and 3rd readings, as well as bicameral committee meetings, before it can be signed into law.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr has vowed to pass the FOI bill under his term. While Aquino has so far refused to certify the bill as urgent, he has reiterated his support for it, and included it in the list of priority bills submitted to Congress in July.
Read the draft consolidated FOI bill below: