Freedom of Information bill moves to House plenary
- Vice president
- Members of the cabinet
- Senate and House members
- Supreme Court justices
- Members of Constitutional Commissions
- Officers of the Armed Forces with the rank of general or the equivalent rank
On exceptions to law enforcement, Gutierrez said there is jurisprudence that recognizes exceptions to access such information.
Romualdo, one of those who opposed the move to adopt the TWG report, expressed reservations about the capacity of local government units, such as barangays, to come up with websites within a timeframe of two years.
The proposed law requires all branches of government to upload public documents, including their annual budgets and bid results, on a website.
Romualdo said the local government officials were not consulted on the bill. Aglipay, in response, said the bill provides for capacity-building measures.
The Camiguin representative also raised concerns over whether the Ombudsman has the manpower and capability to resolve FOI cases, as mandated under the bill.
Romualdo warned that the provision stating that the exhaustion of administrative remedies will no longer apply could swamp the courts and the Ombudsman with FOI cases.
In an interview after the hearing, Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr said advocates hope to pass the FOI bill on 3rd reading by the middle of 2015.
The bill came close to becoming a law in the 14th Congress but the House of Representatives failed to ratify it due to the lack of a quorum.
While the FOI bill hurdled the committee during the 15th Congress, there was not enough time to tackle the law by the time it reached the plenary.
Baguilat said FOI advocates have already learned from what happened to previous deliberations
It also "helped" that Almonte, the committee chair, was supportive of the advocates' move to end discussions at the committee level and bring the debates to the plenary.
Asked about the support of the House leadership, Baguilat said: "They sent monitors. Whatever happens, we have Ma'am Dina Abad. We're happy that the Speaker is supportive of this. There's no move to say, 'Don't vote on this.' He has been saying it publicly so we did our job to bring it to the plenary because everybody has been saying, 'How can we endorse it if it's still in the committee?"
Abad is one of the Deputy Speakers in the House. She is also the wife of Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad.
Meanwhile, Malacañang welcomed the passing of the bill at the committee level, with Deputy Presidential Speaker Abigail Valte saying the Palace is "satisfied with the current draft."
"We have participated in the technical working group sessions and have kept communication lines open with citizen advocates. The draft likewise contains Open Data principles as proposed by this administration," she said.
She added the President "hopes to see the FOI passed before the end of his term," as he mentioned at the Daylight Dialogue last July.
Read the position papers of the Makabayan bloc and the response of other authors of the FOI bill below.
Answer of the other authors to the position of the Makabayan bloc:
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